MONTROSE — Highland’s Emily Hadler had extra motivation while winning the Medina Division I Sectional tennis tournament Saturday at Springside Racquet & Fitness Club: She needed to get home and get ready for homecoming.
The top-seeded Hadler defeated Medina’s unseeded Elizabeth Stuart 6-1, 6-1 in the singles semifinals, then won 11 straight games to down Brecksville’s second-seeded Mia Zivkovic 6-2, 6-0 in the final.
Stuart came back to defeat Walsh Jesuit’s unseeded Tatum Carmichael 6-2, 6-1 in the third-place match and will join Hadler at the Medina District on Thursday, as will the third-place Wadsworth doubles team of Hannah Jarolim and Patricia De Minon.
“It feels really, really good,” Hadler said after improving to 32-4 on the season. “I knew after (finishing third) last year that I would have a chance at it, but I also knew it would be hard to get it. It feels really good that all my hard work has paid off.”
At the Medina District, which sends six singles players and six doubles teams to the state tournament, entrants need to win their first match and one of their next two to guarantee advancement.
“I think I have a fighting chance to get to state,” said Hadler, who lost her first match at districts last year as a freshman. “I just hope I don’t run into the toughest section in the (draw). We’ll see.”
Hadler lost just four of the 64 games she played at the sectional, but her semifinal match against Medina’s Stuart, a freshman, featured a number of great points by both players.
“Everything was working for me, so that was really good,” Hadler said. “It was just a good tennis match. It was closer than the score said. She’s good. By her senior year, she’ll be really good and tough to beat. She’s really athletic, which is really important.”
In the final, the 15-year-old Hadler trailed Zivkovic 2-1, but settled in and didn’t drop another game.
“I started making my shots,” she said. “When she came to the net, instead of trying to pass her, I just hit it at her, which worked a lot better.”
Stuart praised Hadler, who also beat her in the regular season, but was pleased how she bounced back in the third-place match against Carmichael.
“She is so consistent,” Stuart said of Hadler. “She gets every single ball back and she has some pace on it. That’s what makes her a great player.
“I feel like I played really well (all week). I was just really confident and being aggressive and coming to the net.”
Wadsworth’s unseeded Jarolim and De Minon fell 6-1, 6-1 to top seeds and eventual sectional champs Gabby Costantini and Lily Joyce of Walsh Jesuit in the semis, but came back with an impressive 7-5, 6-2 victory over Hudson’s second-seeded Jenny Gan and Susie Fan in the third-place match.
It was Jarolim and De Minon’s second victory over a seeded team, as they beat Brecksville’s fourth-seeded Alana Thomas and Verena Farid in the quarterfinals.
Jarolim, a senior, will be making her third straight district doubles appearance, while De Minon, a sophomore exchange student from Spain, will be making her first.
“They played really well,” Grizzlies coach Kristy Nichol said. “They just hit some really nice angles to create some errors. They were the more steady team.”
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