Cloverleaf’s Emily Dunbar and Hathaway Brown’s Lauren Gillinov are about to get reacquainted on the tennis court.
The Tri-City Park Division II Sectional begins today at 9 a.m., and the second-seeded Dunbar and top-seeded Gillinov, the two-time defending state champ, are on a collision course to meet in the finals. The top four singles players and doubles teams will advance to the Medina District at Springside Racquet Club.
Brunswick, Highland, Medina and Wadsworth will take part in the Medina D-I Sectional, which will begin Wednesday at 8 a.m. at Springside. Highland freshman Emily Hadler is seeded fourth in singles.
A year ago, Dunbar defeated Gillinov in the sectional and district finals, but lost to her 6-7 (6), 7-5, 6-0 in the state championship match.
“I think it’s good,” Colts coach Brenda Hewit said of Dunbar and Gillinov potentially meeting three weeks in a row for a second straight year. “It’s good competition.”
Dunbar, who reached the D-I state quarterfinals as a freshman and sophomore, is 20-0 in 2016. The Richmond recruit and three-time Gazette MVP is 240-0 in games played this season, has been watching her diet and even hit with her mom, former pro Vicki (Nelson) Dunbar, after winning the Portage Trail Conference Tournament at first singles.
“She’s more focused this year than ever,” Hewit said. “She’s not messing around.”
Dunbar will likely be the only Cloverleaf player to advance to districts, but Maddie Huff (19-2), who won the PTC title at second singles, and Helaina Limas (19-0), who won at third singles, could make some noise. Huff and Limas, like Dunbar, have first-round byes.
If Huff wins in the second round, she’ll probably have to get by Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy’s Irene Norman, who was seeded at Tri-City a year ago and advanced to districts, in the third round. Norman beat Highland’s Hadler in a recent dual match.
Should Huff notch an upset there, she would likely face Hathaway Brown’s fourth-seeded Maddie Lynch in the quarterfinals, with the winner guaranteed a district berth. Huff, a junior, lost to Lynch at sectionals last year.
If Limas wins her first two matches, she would almost certainly face Gillinov for a berth in the semifinals, which will be held Saturday at 9 a.m., with the championship and third-place matches to follow.
At the Medina D-I Sectional, which will continue Thursday at 3:30 p.m. and Saturday at 9 a.m., Highland’s fourth-seeded Hadler is the Medina County player most likely to advance, though several others have a shot. The top four placers in singles and doubles move on to the Oberlin College District.
Hadler, who is 20-2 in singles play, was the Suburban League American Conference Tournament champ at the No. 1 position. If the seeds hold true to form, she would face Walsh Jesuit’s top-seeded Molly Sandberg in the semis.
“Her outlook is good,” Hornets coach Lisa Reynolds said of Hadler finishing in the top four. “If she plays her game and her style of tennis, she has a good chance to get out.”
If Wadsworth’s Gabriela Heideman wins her first match, she will play Medina’s Emily Speckman in the second round, with Highland’s Rachel Fannin possibly awaiting that winner in the third round. All are in the same bracket as Walsh’s third-seeded Gabriella Constantini, who they wouldn’t meet until the quarterfinals. Constantini was third at Tri-City last year.
“Rachel is on fire,” Reynolds said of Fannin, who is 21-0 in singles play and was the SL American Conference champ at the No. 2 position. “She’s playing her best tennis.”
Should Medina’s Allie Pearson get past Strongsville’s Gina Upholzer in the first round, she would face defending sectional champ Sandberg in the second round. Highland’s Joelle Petek and Brunswick’s Sydney Cherni are also in the same bracket as Sandberg, who beat Dunbar in previous tournaments when the Colts were D-I, while Brunswick’s Antara Rath and Wadsworth’s Rylee O’Brien are in Hadler’s draw.
Medina’s Becca Liebler, who is in the same bracket as No. 2 seed Cora Shane of Cuyahoga Falls, will meet Walsh’s Katie Devine in the first round. If Liebler wins there, she could potentially meet Wadsworth’s Brenna Murphy in the second round.
In doubles play, Abi Raitano and Shelby Cook of Medina could potentially meet Highland’s Rachel Ferguson and Stephanie Fannin in third-round play. Both have first-round byes, but are in the same bracket as Walsh’s top-seeded Paige Carmichael and Skye Harwood.
Wadsworth’s Hannah Jarolim and Ashley Tittle could make some noise, as they are in the same bracket as Brecksville’s fourth-seeded Abby Richardson and Alana Thomas.
Medina’s Makayla Velic and Sam Ott, who won the Greater Cleveland Conference Tournament title at first doubles, are in the same bracket as Hudson’s fourth-seeded Grace Graham and Jenny Gan, as are Wadsworth’s Erin Murphy and Reilly Klatka and Highland’s Jonna Jaroska and Maddie Arbuckle.