Thursday was a good day for Medina County tennis players named Emily.
Cloverleaf’s Emily Dunbar secured a district berth by winning her quarterfinal match at the Tri City Park Division II Sectional, as did Highland’s Emily Hadler at the Medina D-I Sectional at Springside Racquet Club.
The second-seeded Dunbar, a three-time state qualifier and D-II state runner-up last year, ran her season record to 23-0 with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Revere’s Taylor Fee. The three-time Gazette MVP and Richmond recruit will play third-seeded Nicole Gillinov of Hathaway Brown in the sectional semifinals Saturday at 9 a.m., but is already guaranteed a berth in the Medina D-II District at Springside.
“She just cruised right through,” Cloverleaf coach Brenda Hewit said of Dunbar, the Portage Trail Conference champion at first singles who is now 276-0 in games played this season. “She played very well.”
The fourth-seeded Hadler was just as impressive in D-I, downing Hudson’s Susie Fan 6-1, 6-0 to improve to 23-2 in singles matches. The win guaranteed the freshman a spot in the top four and earned her a berth in the Medina D-I District, which will also be played at Springside.
“I just try to be consistent and keep the ball in play, but I also can be aggressive,” Hadler said. “There was a little bit of pressure because it was a qualifying match for district, so I just wanted to play my game.
“I knew I had a shot (to advance), but I also knew it wouldn’t be easy because I was the fourth seed and a lot of people try to go after that spot.”
Hadler, the Suburban League American Conference champ at first singles and sibling of former Highland tennis stars Danielle, Nicole, Isaac and Joshua, will play Hudson’s top-seeded Molly Sandberg in the sectional semifinals Saturday at 9 a.m.
Sandberg, a Cornell recruit who played the first two years of her career at Walsh Jesuit, reached the state quarterfinals before losing to the eventual state champion as a freshman, was second in the state in 2014 and finished third last year.
Sandberg also defeated Dunbar in the sectional and district finals as a freshman and sophomore when Cloverleaf was in D-I.
“She’s tough,” Hadler said. “I have nothing to lose. I’m the underdog.”
Even if Hadler loses to Sandberg, she can improve her district draw by coming back and winning her third-place match Saturday.
“There’s a pretty big difference between the third seed and the fourth seed,” she said. “If you get the fourth seed, you have to play a one seed at district (as opposed to a two seed if you finish third).”
Hadler will have company at the D-I district, as Wadsworth’s unseeded doubles team of Hannah Jarolim and Ashley Tittle earned a berth by defeating Twinsburg’s unseeded Anishka Singh and Raman Bhambra 6-3, 6-0 in the quarterfinals.
The D-I sectional semifinals in doubles were moved up to Thursday, and Jarolim and Tittle fell 6-0, 6-1 to Walsh’s top-seeded Paige Carmichael and Skye Harwood. The Wadsworth duo will play for third place today at 3:30 p.m. at Springside.
Jarolim, a junior, also qualified for districts last year with Sarah Elfers, but earning a berth with Tittle, a senior in her first varsity season, was much more thrilling. In the second round Wednesday against Aurora’s Sarah George and Claire Rosengarten, the Grizzlies dropped the first set and were down 5-2 in the second before rallying to force a third set. They then fell behind 4-1, but came back to win in a tiebreaker.
“That was a great match,” Wadsworth coach Kristy Nichol said. “That gave the girls enough confidence for the rest of the tournament.”
The two remaining singles players and doubles teams from the county were eliminated Thursday in the quarterfinals.
Highland freshman Rachel Fannin, the SL American Conference champ at second singles, fell 6-1, 6-3 to Walsh’s third-seeded Gabriella Constantini in a battle of left-handers at the D-I sectional. It was Fannin’s first singles loss in 25 matches.
Cloverleaf junior Helaina Limas (21-1), the PTC champ at third singles, lost 6-0, 6-0 to two-time defending state titlist and No. 1 seed Lauren Gillinov of Hathaway Brown in the D-II sectional. Gillinov defeated Dunbar in the state finals last year and is the older sister of the Cloverleaf senior’s semifinal opponent Saturday.
Medina’s Makayla Velic and Sam Ott, the Greater Cleveland Conference champs at first doubles, fell 6-2, 6-2 to Hudson’s third-seeded Grace Graham and Jenny Gan, while the Bees’ Abi Raitano and Shelby Cook lost 6-0, 6-0 to Walsh’s Carmichael and Harwood.
At next week’s Medina Districts, the top six placers in singles and doubles will advance to the state tournament in D-I. The top four in each will move on in D-II.