Highland sophomore Emily Hadler doesn’t play high school tennis for personal attention, but she’s going to get some this afternoon.
When Hadler departs at 2:20 p.m. today for the Division I state tennis tournament at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Highland students will line the hallways for a “clap out” while the school drum line performs.
“It’s kind of cool, but it’s not really my thing, I guess,” the fairly shy 15-year-old said Wednesday. “Everyone at the school’s eyes are going to be on me, but it’s still pretty cool.”
The owner of a 4.45 grade-point average and a student of the game of tennis, Hadler realizes she’ll be a pretty big underdog when she takes the court against Pickerington North sophomore Cassie Alcala at 9 a.m. Friday.
Alcala, considered a four-star recruit by the Tennis Recruiting Network, won the Hilliard District singles title by defeating Columbus Centennial’s Zoey Weil 4-6, 6-1, retired in the championship match. Weil finished third in the state a year ago.
Alcala also reached the state tournament as a freshman, dropping her first match 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 to Cincinnati Turpin’s Caitlin Fisher, who went on to finish fourth.
Hadler (34-6), currently a two-star recruit by TRN, finished sixth at the Medina District after winning the Medina Sectional. She will be making her first state tournament appearance.
“No matter what happens, it’s going to be a really good experience,” Hadler said. “Not many people can say they made it to the state tournament. Just to be there is an honor.”
Though TRN lists Alcala as the No. 90 recruit nationally in the class of 2020 and has Hadler at 580, the two-time Suburban League American Conference first singles champion knows matches are decided on the court.
“When you go in expecting to lose, most likely you’re going to lose,” Hadler said. “That doesn’t set you up very well. I’ll take it point by point, game by game, match by match and we’ll see how it goes.”
If Hadler loses to Alcala, she will be out of the tournament. If she wins, she’ll play in the quarterfinals Friday and guarantee herself of a second-team All-Ohio berth.
Regardless of what happens, Hadler will have two more seasons of high school tennis to play.
“She’s very tennis smart,” Hornets coach Lisa Reynolds said. “I hope she plays it point by point and that she continues to look forward and not back during her match.
“I hope she takes out some experience that she can build upon for both life and her future tennis seasons. She’s only a sophomore.”
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