MONTROSE — Emily Hadler is going to try to make the most out of her first trip to the Division I state girls tennis tournament.
The Highland sophomore punched her ticket Saturday with a 6-2, 6-0 win against Riverside’s Sarah Selan in the consolation semifinals of the Medina District. She ultimately lost the fifth-place match 6-1, 6-2 to Riverside’s Angelica Ross, the No. 1 seed from the Solon Sectional.
“This was one of my big goals going into the season, and being able to accomplish it is great,” said Hadler, who in 2016 lost in the first round of districts. “I just want to enjoy the moment. It’s a really big accomplishment getting there. I think it’s going to be a really cool experience, so I just want to enjoy it.”
Hadler didn’t have a problem racking up break points, winning all seven of Selan’s service games. But in the first set, she struggled to hold serve. Despite taking a 2-0 lead, she needed six deuces to close the second game, saving three break points in the process.
Selan broke Hadler in six points thanks to a double fault, cutting the deficit to 3-1. Two games later, Selan won the first three points on Hadler’s serve and broke Hadler again two points later with a cross-court backhand winner, making it 4-2.
But Hadler was never challenged on Selan’s serve, needing just four points to get back the break. Though Hadler needed to save three break points to do so, she utilized a backhand winner sandwiched around Selan unforced errors to close the set.
“I thought I was just more confident in my serve and more relaxed hitting it,” Hadler said. “That helps a lot.”
It paid off, as Hadler took the first four games of the second set, including a string of 10 points, as she held both of her service games without dropping a point. Selan didn’t go down without a fight, as she dug out of a love-30 hole to force a tie and then held off a break point to force the first of nine deuces.
Selan had six chances to close the game, including four straight points after the fourth through eighth deuce points, but each time Hadler found a way — two with winners, one forehand and one backhand and the other two from Selan unforced errors, a double fault and a long backhand.
Hadler forced her fourth game point with a strong forehand winner and watched as Selan’s forehand sailed long to give her a 5-0 lead. She closed the match with six points on serve, punctuated by a forehand winner.
“It was crazy,” Hadler said of the 26-point game, which had more points than the other five combined (24). “She started to play different, just keeping the ball back in play. Going through my mind, I just wanted to keep getting the ball back and be patient.”
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