Squads send seeded players into sectionals
The three high school girls tennis teams in the Olentangy district will be playing in different Division I sectionals when the postseason begins Thursday, Oct. 3.
Each team also has at least one entry seeded in its respective tournament.
All three are hoping their paths cross Oct. 11 and 12 in the district tournament at Hilliard Davidson. For that to happen, players will have to be among the top four finishers in singles or doubles in the two-day sectional tournaments, which conclude Saturday, Oct. 5.
Orange will play its sectional at Davidson, and the Pioneers have two seeded doubles entries. Senior Anna Sanford and her sister, freshman Alle Sanford, are the top seed and have a first-round bye. They will play Mykayla Hagaman and Madison Cruse of Pickerington North or Westland's Madison Qualls and Ami Perez in the second round.
Anna Sanford was a state qualifier as a freshman and sophomore but was declared ineligible as a junior after violating an OHSAA playing rule.
"They haven't played a lot together in the USTA because of their age groups, but they've been talking about this for at least a year and it's been on their radars for a lot longer I'm told," coach Matt Rutherford said of the Sanfords. "They only have one shot at it and it's this season. It was solely their decision."
Also in doubles, senior Madison Wolfe and junior Jessica Phelps are seeded third and have a first-round bye. In the second round, they will play Rachel Sorensen or Maddie Schroeder of Pickerington North or Stephanie George and Courtney Go of Dublin Jerome.
"It's likely they'll play the Jerome team and that'll be tough," Rutherford said. "If they get through that, it looks comfortable. Jessica is playing her best tennis of the year right now."
Competing in singles will be sophomores Sruti Chigurupati and Carly Vroom and freshman Mary Damko.
Damko, who is replacing junior Madison Riley, opens against Megan Marsh of Marysville. Riley suffered a foot injury after the draw Sept. 22 and is out for the season.
Chigurupati opens with Christina Dickerson of Columbus West and Vroom will play Pickerington North's Shaili Kothari.
The Pioneers competed in the second-place OCC tournament Sept. 28 at Gahanna and scored 18 points to finish first ahead of Dublin Coffman (17), Gahanna (5) and Dublin Scioto (4).
The event included the runners-up in all four divisions of the OCC. Orange finished second behind New Albany in the OCC-Capital.
Winning titles were Anna Sanford (first singles), Alle Sanford (second singles) and Wolfe and Phelps (first doubles).
Patriots to return to Reynoldsburg
After finishing first in the third-place OCC tournament Sept. 28 at Reynoldsburg, Liberty will head back there for its sectional.
Sophomores Alexia Meyer and Anna Delaney will be looking to return to district.
Last season, Meyer lost in the first round at district. Delaney joined 2013 graduate Olivia Groves in doubles, and they lost in the second round.
Meyer is seeded second and will play the winner of a play-in match between Whitehall's Amanda Wyman and New Albany's Christina Vitellas. Delaney faces Lancaster's Bailey Kuhn in the first round.
Also in singles, junior Rachel Carline plays Chillicothe's Bekah Ray in a play-in match.
"Alexia is pleased with her draw and I'm pleased with her game," coach Christine Kaeding said. "She's getting better and better every match. I think Anna is going to get through the field and play Alexia in seeding. I think it's very possible."
The Patriots have been without senior Sydney Power since Aug. 26, when she suffered a shoulder injury against Columbus Academy. Power was a state qualifier last season.
"She will have shoulder surgery in November and we're hoping everything will be OK so she can get back on the court in college," Kaeding said. "The girls have rallied and stepped up their games in her absence."
In doubles, junior Sonia Chhabria and sophomore Lizzie Radkiewicz are seeded third and have a first-round bye. They will play Reynoldsburg's Paris Ring and Jessika Acosta-Gorman or Dresden Tri-Valley's Maria Casas and Kennedy Hassell in the second round.
Sophomore Avivah Wang and freshman Sidney Reineke will play Whitehall's Zi Wong and Angela Li.
"Sonia and Lizzie are playing the best I've ever seen them play," Kaeding said. "They're working together as one and it's fun to watch."
In the OCC tournament, Liberty finished ahead of Reynoldsburg, Olentangy and Westerville Central. Winning titles were Meyer (first singles), Delaney (second singles), Chabbria and Radkiewicz (first doubles) and Wang and Reineke (second doubles).
Braves to play at Central
Olentangy will participate in the sectional at Pickerington Central, where sophomore Bri Brdicka is seeded second in singles. Her first-round match will be against Groveport's Hannah Roach or Logan's Laci Stivison.
Last season, Brdicka and her sister, 2013 graduate Megan Brdicka, finished third at sectional but did not compete at district because Bri was ill.
"Bri's experience last year was a great confidence builder and great experience overall," coach Jeff Luxenburger said. "Coming to the sectional with that under her belt will help her focus on playing her best tennis. The fact that she's a sophomore is incredibly exciting for the future."
Also competing in singles are senior Grace Cramer and junior Pallavi Mannava, and both open with play-in matches. Cramer faces Hartley's Megan Resetar and Mannava plays Groveport's Kaysea Smith.
In doubles, the Braves will use four juniors. Namrata Arya and Elyssa Ackerman will open against Dublin Coffman's Annie Yang and Jessica Flynn, and Madison Luse and Jackie Vouis will play Westerville Central's Gina Scarborough and Melanie Peters.
"We do have some tough draws, but Namrata Arya and Elyssa Ackerman have been playing and practicing really solidly in the past few weeks," Luxenburger said. "If they can really execute and step up, I think they have a chance to win a few matches to make it to district."