Manickam Manickam made it his goal to qualify for the state tournament.
While some coaches fret about the psyche of a freshmen playing at the varsity level, Manickam set the bar early -- then went about reaching it.
"It definitely alleviates a lot of pressure. I put that pressure on me before the season started to get to Columbus," said Manickam, the third-place finisher at the Division II district tournament.
"I felt like it would propel me more to achieve that goal," he said.
Manickam is one of three area players at state and one of two freshman in the tournament. His first-round opponent today at Hilliard Davidson is defending state champion Chris Diaz of Columbus Bishop Watterson.
"I don't have any pressure being there. I don't have anything to lose. I'll be relaxed," Manickam said. "It'll be a good experience. I can learn a thing or two playing him."
Manickam, St. Mary Central Catholic junior Andrew Linden and Norwalk sophomore Trevor Bowers are all playing in the singles tournament, which this year is half-full of repeat qualifiers.
Eight of the 16 players in the Div. II bracket return from the 2010 tournament, including Linden and Bowers. Manickam's own first-round opponent, Chris Diaz of Columbus Bishop Watterson, is the defending Division II state champion.
For the rest of this story, read Friday's Sandusky Register.