BATH TWP. — Elizabeth Stuart made the first part as easy as possible. Now the heavy lifting begins.
The second-seeded Medina High singles player posted her third straight double bagel at the Medina Division I Sectional, beating Nordonia’s Arcanna Rogers 6-0, 6-0 in the quarterfinals Thursday to secure one of four berths in the Medina District.
“This girl got a lot of balls back and was very fast,” Stuart said. “She definitely made me work. I was just on my ‘A’ game and hitting my shots.”
The top-seeded Highland doubles team of Emily Hadler and Rachel Fannin assured itself of joining Stuart at the district event at Springside Racquet & Fitness Club, downing Medina’s Alena Law and Grace Kaylor 6-0, 6-1 in the quarterfinals.
The only other Medina County player to reach the quarters at Springside was Highland’s Joelle Petek, who fell 6-1, 6-1 to Kent Roosevelt’s fourth-seeded Maya McDaniel. Cloverleaf’s Nikki Vargo reached the quarters at the Rocky River D-II Sectional, falling 6-0, 6-0 to defending state singles champion Nicole Gillinov of Hathaway Brown.
Next up for Stuart, a sophomore who finished fourth at sectionals last year despite being unseeded, is McDaniel, a talented freshman. The two have split two matches in United States Tennis Association play, but their 9 a.m. meeting Saturday will be their first in high school.
“She’s very consistent and hits with a lot of topspin,” Stuart said. “It’s going to be a very good match. She’s gotten a lot better.”
So has Stuart, who learned how important a high sectional finish is when she lost in the first round at districts last year.
Should the 5-foot-8 right-hander get past McDaniel, she will face the winner of the match between Brecksville’s top-seeded Mia Zivkovic and No. 3 seed Paige Meyers of Strongsville. Stuart is 2-0 vs. 2017 state qualifier Zivkovic in high school matches and 2-2 vs. Meyers.
“I’m trying not to put pressure on myself,” Stuart said. “I just want to play the way I have the last three matches, just play tennis and play how I know how to play. Anybody could win it. It’s going to be very close between the four of us.”
Singles players in the regular season, Hadler and Fannin are 36-1 in games played as a sectional doubles pairing. They will meet Walsh Jesuit’s fourth-seeded Tatum Carmichael and Katie Devine in the semifinals, with the Warriors’ second-seeded Lily Joyce and Emma Kealy and Hudson’s third-seeded Susie Fan and Laura Nijhuis in the other half of the bracket.
“We really wanted to qualify,” said Fannin, a junior and three-time Suburban League American Conference Tournament champion at second singles. “It’s my first time, so I’m really excited.”
Reigning Gazette MVP Hadler, also a junior, is a three-time SL American Tournament champ at first singles. She was a district singles qualifier as a freshman and state qualifier as a sophomore, when she won the Medina Sectional, but elected to play doubles with Fannin this year.
“We’ve done a good job at net and are finishing points early,” Hadler said. “I definitely think we have a chance (to win sectionals). We’ve played some really good doubles together.”
Medina Division I Sectional
(Saturday at 9 a.m., Springside Racquet & Fitness Club)
Singles: No. 1 Mia Zivkovic (Brecksville) vs. No. 3 Paige Meyers (Strongsville); No. 2 Elizabeth Stuart (Medina) vs. No. 4 Maya McDaniel (Kent Roosevelt). Doubles: No. 1 Emily Hadler/Rachel Fannin (Highland) vs. No. 4 Tatum Carmichael/Katie Devine (Walsh Jesuit); No. 2 Lily Joyce/Emma Kealy (Walsh Jesuit) vs. No. 3 Susie Fan/Laura Nijhuis (Hudson).
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