Bradley's Thais ready to take singles route
Senior cousins Ashley Thai and Lauren Thai of the Hilliard Bradley High School girls tennis team have been quite successful playing doubles together during the postseason the past two years.
They won Division II sectional, district and state championships in 2010 and won the Division I sectional title at Reynoldsburg, placed third at district and went 1-1 at state last season.
This season, the Thais have different postseason goals, as they have opted to compete in singles in the Division I sectional tournament Thursday, Oct. 4, and Saturday, Oct. 6, at Davidson.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles from each of the four sectional sites advance to the district tournament Oct. 12 and 13 at Davidson.
Lauren Thai is seeded second at sectional behind Dublin Jerome's Lauren Bellinger and Ashley Thai is seeded third.
In 2009, the Thais played singles in the Division II postseason. Lauren placed second at district before going 1-1 at state and Ashley went 1-1 at district, losing in a state-qualifying match.
"Doubles is very deep in central Ohio this year, but I don't think that mattered much to the Thais in making their decision to play singles," coach Ben Lilly said. "They just wanted to see how far they can go on their own this year because they're both good singles players. They both did well in singles as freshmen and I think they are ready to go far in the tournament again as seniors. My goal is to get them both to state."
Playing doubles at sectional are Kayla Bushee and Haley Jackson and Bailey Decker and Taylor Hayes.
The top four seeds in doubles in the Davidson sectional are Jerome sisters Emma Stein and Sarah Stein (first), Dublin Coffman's Ellee Bullock and Caitlyn Merzbacher (second), Davidson sisters Laura Hagy and Natalie Hagy (third) and Davidson's Chloe Shevlin and Ella Wilson (fourth).
To advance to district, Bushee and Jackson likely would need to beat Shevlin and Wilson in the third round and Decker and Hayes likely would need to defeat the Hagys in the third round.
"If our doubles teams play well, I think they've got a shot at making it to district, but Davidson's teams are good, so beating them would be a big challenge," Lilly said.
The Jaguars competed in the OCC-Cardinal Division tournament Sept. 29 at home and finished second in the final league standings with 55 points and a 6-1 league dual match record behind Jerome (72, 7-0).
Dublin Scioto (46, 4-2) and Worthington Kilbourne (45, 4-2) were third and fourth, respectively, before playing a league match Oct. 1 to determine which of the two finishes third.
Darby finished fifth (22, 2-5), followed by Westerville Central (17, 1-6), Westerville South (13, 1-6) and Westerville North (10, 2-5).
Lauren Thai went 3-0 at first singles to be named OCC-Cardinal Player of the Year. She was leading Jerome's Lauren Bellinger 7-5, 4-3 in the final before Bellinger retired because of an injury.
"This was my best win of the season so far," Lauren Thai said. "I lost to her 6-3, 6-1 (Aug. 21), so I'm happy that I was able to play a lot better this time. We also finished second in the OCC as a team, so it was a good day for us all around."
Ashley Thai (second singles) and Taylor Ruby (third singles) each went 2-1 and finished second. Bushee and Jackson (second doubles) went 1-2 and finished fourth and Amaray Denney and Hayes (first doubles) went 2-1 and placed fifth
"Taylor (Ruby) beat a Dublin Scioto girl (Susma Rai) 8-2 for a big win over a good player on the way to finishing second," Lilly said. "It a good day for Taylor."
Panthers finish fifth in OCC-Cardinal
Darby scored 12 points in the OCC-Cardinal tournament to hold onto fifth place in the final league standings.
Abigail Greene and Hannah Lee (first doubles) had the Panthers' top finish, going 1-2 and placing fourth. Abby Schuster (third singles) went 2-1 and placed fifth, Megan Allen (second singles) and Laura Martin and Deepthi Nacharaju (second doubles) each went 1-2 and placed sixth and Joyce Kim (first singles) went 1-2 and placed seventh.
'Cats coach optimistic about doubles teams
Davidson coach Steve De Dent is optimistic that both of his doubles teams will advance to district.
Last season, the Hagy sisters went 2-2 and placed fourth in the sectional at Davidson to become the Wildcats' first doubles team to qualify for district since Emily Nash and Gosia Hrycyszyn in 2005. The Hagys then lost to Upper Arlington's Elaine Cloern and Audrey Berger 6-2, 6-2 in the first round at district.
"If we play good doubles and we can get on a roll, we can make it," De Dent said. "Bradley's got some strong players, though, and we really can't afford to take anyone for granted."
Competing in singles at sectional will be Mary Carson, Hillary Hunt and Heather Haynes.
"Our sectional is going to be really tough in singles, but that's why you play the matches, and on any given day, anything can happen," De Dent said.