MEDINA — Elizabeth Stuart is hoping to fry some bigger fish as the high school tennis season progresses, but Deeya Rodrigues was just hungry for a win.
Medina’s top singles players dominated their opponents Wednesday as the Bees recorded a 5-0 Greater Cleveland Conference victory over Brunswick, Stuart beating freshman Calista Bobula 6-2, 6-1 at No. 1 and Rodrigues downing Pooja Upadhyah by the same score at the second spot.
The Bees, who have played a fairly rugged schedule, improved to 6-6, 4-1, while the Blue Devils fell to 8-6-1, 2-4.
“I thought it was a really good match,” Rodrigues said after improving her mark to 5-7. “I got to work on a lot of my game, but I still have to do some work on getting more of my second serves in and staying more consistent.
“It’s very tough,” the junior said of playing second singles. “You see some girls who are really good and really consistent. All of the people at this position hit really hard shots.”
Stuart, an All-Gazette pick and district qualifier as a freshman who improved to 8-4 on the season, used her match against Bobula (7-6) as a tune-up for her non-league road meeting today against Brecksville’s Mia Zivkovic.
“She’s a very consistent player,” Stuart said of Zivkovic. “I’m going to have to keep playing aggressively and hit my shots. She’s like a backboard and gets every shot back. She’s pretty fast, too. You’ve got to make the right decisions fast and get in there and finish it off.”
A year ago, Stuart beat Zivkovic in the regular season, but that came after the seeding meeting for sectionals, leading to Zivkovic getting the second seed and Stuart being unseeded. Zivkovic wound up finishing second at sectionals and Stuart was fourth, but Zivkovic’s higher placing got her a much better draw at districts and she wound up reaching the state tournament, while Stuart played a sectional champ in the first round and was eliminated.
“I just have to keep playing how I’ve played against her and not think too much about sectionals and districts,” said the 5-foot-8 Stuart, who also beat Zivkovic in USTA play. “But, yeah, it does give me hope of qualifying for state.”
The other three matches against improved Brunswick were much closer, especially at third singles, where Medina’s Sophia Alber rallied to beat a game Maddie Gaydos 1-6, 6-4, 10-7.
The Bees’ Alena Law and Grace Kaylor overcame a 5-2 deficit in the first set to beat Lana Estok and Kaitlyn Holop 7-6 (5), 6-4 at first doubles, while Maggie Selva and Lillian Kim downed Cheyenne Dietrich and Amanda Bovenzi 6-1, 7-6 (2) at the No. 2 spot.
Stuart, though, was clearly the best player in the match, using a steady serve, solid baseline play and an improved net game to keep Bobula on her heels.
“I’ve had some ups and downs this season, but that let’s me figure out how to play against different players,” the sophomore said. “There’s definitely a little pressure to win matches I know I won last year. I try not to think about it, but sometimes it happens and I get out of my game.”
Stuart’s lone loss in the GCC this season was to Strongsville’s Paige Meyers, a player she went 2-1 against last year, including a win that qualified her for districts. She still has to play Solon’s Maggie Yang, who beat her in three sets a year ago. Those are the two main players standing between Stuart and a possible GCC title at first singles.
“I have a puncher’s chance,” she said. “We’ll see.”
Medina 5, Brunswick 0
Singles: Elizabeth Stuart (M) def. Calista Bobula, 6-2, 6-1; Deeya Rodrigues (M) def. Pooja Upadhyah, 6-2, 6-1; Sophia Alber (M) def. Maddie Gaydos, 1-6, 6-4, 10-7. Doubles: Alena Law/Grace Kaylor (M) def. Lana Estok/Kaitlyn Holop, 7-6 (5), 6-4; Maggie Selva/Lillian Kim (M) def. Cheyenne Dietrich/Amanda Bovenzi, 6-1, 7-6 (2). Records: Brunswick (8-6-1, 2-4), Medina 6-6, 4-1).