Dublin Jerome High School sophomores Lauren Bellinger and Sarah Stein played well together throughout the Division I state girls tennis tournament, which was held last Friday at Ohio State and last Saturday at Hilliard Davidson.

Dublin Jerome High School sophomores Lauren Bellinger and Sarah Stein played well together throughout the Division I state girls tennis tournament, which was held last Friday at Ohio State and last Saturday at Hilliard Davidson.

Therefore, after the doubles team lost to Cincinnati Ursuline's Komal Safdar and Mehvish Safdar 6-4, 6-2 in the state final, Bellinger didn't make any excuses.

"We played as well as we could have, but they just outplayed us," Bellinger said. "We came out strong and made a lot of shots, and the first set was really close. But they did a lot more with the ball, and they deserved to win."

Bellinger and Stein opened with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Mayfield's Joy Warner and Mitsuki Fukamachi, before beating Liberty Township Lakota East's Carolyn Pitman and Taylor Holden 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 in a quarterfinal.

Pitman and Holden finished second in the state tournament a year ago.

"We played very well in the first match and got a lot of our nerves out of us," Bellinger said. "In the second match, we came back from being down 5-4 in the third set by breaking Carolyn's serve."

Bellinger and Stein also defeated Chagrin Falls Kenston's Victoria Marchant and Mandy Marchant 6-4, 6-3 in a semifinal.

"They had really good lobs and it seemed like they got everything back," Bellinger said. "But we were able to put away a lot of overheads and volleys to beat them. We weren't satisfied with just going to state. We were determined to try and win it."

Making their first state tournament appearance, the doubles team of Jerome seniors Cailey Easdale and Lydia Utkin went 1-1.

Easdale and Utkin opened with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Sylvania Southview's Genna Haidar and Neha Vyas.

"We were a little nervous, but we felt a lot more excited to be playing at state than anything else," Utkin said. "We played with a lot of confidence and we played well. We made our first serves, our first volleys and the majority of our shots."

In the second round, Easdale and Utkin lost to the Safdar sisters 6-1, 6-2.

"When we saw (the Safdar sisters) were in our bracket we were disappointed, because they're the strongest team from another district," Utkin said. "They're a very strong team. They were unpredictable, and they played great. We didn't beat ourselves, they beat us. We were hoping to go farther in the tournament, but this was a great place to end our high school tennis career, so I'm very happy."

Jerome's Lydia Utkin (left) and Cailey Easdale won their first-round match last Friday at the Division I state tournament before falling to eventual champions Komal Safdar and Mehvish Safdar of Cincinnati Ursuline Academy 6-1, 6-2.

Jerome's Lauren Bellinger returns a shot last Friday at state. She and Sarah Stein finished second, falling to Komal Safdar and Mehvish Safdar of Cincinnati Ursuline Academy 6-4, 6-2.