Olentangy Orange freshman Anna Sanford and Olentangy Liberty freshman Sydney Power got their first taste of the Division I state singles tournament last Friday at Ohio State.
Olentangy Orange freshman Anna Sanford and Olentangy Liberty freshman Sydney Power got their first taste of the Division I state singles tournament Oct. 22 at Ohio State.
Both walked away from the event wanting more. Sanford defeated Aurora's Madelyn Gilley 6-2, 6-2 but lost to Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame's Sandy Niehaus 6-0, 6-1 in a quarterfinal. Power lost to Westlake's Lauren Golick 6-4, 6-4 in the first round.
Niehaus went on to defeat Upper Arlington's Niki Flower 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the state final while Golick finished third with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Hudson's Alex Bastock in the consolation final.
"This just makes me want to work harder so I can do better next year," Sanford said. "It was a good experience and I had fun, but I just didn't play very well in the second round."
"Coming in here, I thought I was going to be just happy to be here," Power said. "I learned I just need to be patient, go out there and play my game."
Power, who finished 22-9 overall playing mostly first singles, gave Golick her toughest match outside her 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 semifinal loss to Flower. Power was disappointed she didn't put away the sophomore when she had a chance.
"I had a chance to go up 5-2 in the first set and I messed it up," Power said. "You can't show any signs of weakness or that you're getting mad because things will go downhill from there."
Sanford, who finished the season 32-6 overall at first singles, felt like she let her quarterfinal with Niehaus get away early.
"I just wanted to go out and play my game like it was any other day," Sanford said. "She's a very good player and I just didn't execute."
•Orange loses six seniors: Cassia Cramer, Blair Gabalis, Sidney Glover, Taylor Knight, Sarah McCall and Anna Springer. Coach Mark Latham, who coached many of the players in middle school before taking the Pioneers job, said it was difficult to write his farewell speech to the seniors for the team's banquet on Nov. 4.
"We took kids who were the junior varsity the year before at Olentangy and produced a team with a winning record our first year," Latham said. "Two years later, they're battling the New Albanys and the Hilliard Bradleys of the world."
Orange finished third in the OCC-Capital Division with a 5-2 record and 48 points behind Hilliard Bradley (6-1, 66) and New Albany (7-0, 64), and ahead of Big Walnut (4-3, 33), Delaware (3-4, 28), Watkins Memorial (2-5, 12), Mount Vernon (1-6, 8) and Franklin Heights (0-7, 4). Sanford lost to Bradley's Lauren Thai 6-3, 6-2 to place second at first singles.
Orange (11-5 overall) lost to three teams, No. 2 Dublin Jerome, No. 3 New Albany and No. 5 Watterson - all ranked in the Division I district poll - and Bradley was ranked fourth in the final Division II state poll.
Sanford leads the list of returnees along with juniors Lindsay Spragg (21-7), Ayla Hood (19-10) and Kristin Kullberg (14-3) and sophomore Karlee Greene (10-5). Other players who are expected to contribute include juniors Rachel Bartram, Angelina Cugini, Sowmya Dandu, Kira Lindeman and Donna Nguyen, sophomores Kendra Hopeck and Sneha Rajendran and freshman Madison Wolfe.
"The junior varsity didn't lose court this year and went undefeated last year," Latham said. "As tough as it is to lose all these good players, we've got a whole new set of girls who have been sitting and waiting their turn."
•Liberty's 9-5 finish overall and a second-place showing in the OCC-Cardinal was a pleasant surprise for coach Christine Kaeding.
The Patriots had six players graduate, including state qualifier Alex Power, from last year's team.
"I thought it was going to be a growing season," Kaeding said. "But we ended up being highly competitive as a team. Every match we seemed to improve."
The Cardinal Division produced five of the Central District's 12 state qualifiers, the most of any conference with Liberty's Power and Jerome's doubles teams of Lydia Utkin and Cailey Easdale and Lauren Bellinger and Sarah Stein making it to state. Bellinger and Stein placed second in doubles.
Liberty went 6-1 in league play and scored 62 points to finish behind Jerome (7-0, 96) and ahead of Westerville Central (5-2, 54), Dublin Scioto (4-3, 45), Westerville North (3-4, 31), Westerville South (2-5, 23), Marysville (1-6, 13) and Olentangy (0-7, 11).
The Patriots finished second on four of the five courts, with Power losing to Stein 6-0, 6-4 at first singles, Lauren DeVincent losing to Bellinger 6-2, 6-0 at second singles and Alicia Dimaccio losing to Easdale 6-1, 6-0 and Olivia Groves and Madelyn Kelley losing to Utkin and Emma Schnell 6-1, 6-1 at first doubles.
"That was really good preparation for sectional tournament," Kaeding said. "I'm looking forward to facing Jerome again next year. They're always good competition."
While the team loses Kelley and Padmini Giri to graduation, it should return a strong lineup with juniors DeVincent and Alyssa Miller, sophomores Dimaccio, Groves and Jenny King and Power expected back.
At a glance
•Record: 9-5 overall, 6-1 (second) in OCC-Cardinal
•Seniors lost: Padmini Giri and Madelyn Kelley
•Key returnees: Lauren DeVincent, Alicia Dimaccio, Olivia Groves and Sydney Power
•Record: 11-5 overall, 5-2 (third) in OCC-Capital
•Seniors lost: Cassia Cramer, Blair Gabalis, Sidney Glover, Taylor Knight, Sarah McCall and Anna Springer
•Key returnees: Ayla Hood, Anna Sanford and Lindsay Spragg