Expectations held serve during the first day of the Division I district girls tennis tournament Oct. 12 at Hilliard Bradley High School.

In singles, Centennial’s Zoey Weil and Pickerington Central’s Cassie Alcala qualified for return trips to the state tournament, which will be held Oct. 20 and 21 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.

The first two rounds were Oct. 12 and semifinals and finals are Oct. 14 at Upper Arlington. The top four finishers in singles and doubles qualified for state.

In doubles, Olentangy Liberty’s Maddie Atway and Dani Schoenly will play Upper Arlington’s Evelyn Holman and Wendy Shi in one semifinal, while Liberty’s Lexi Steer and Cellini Ko will face UA’s Ella Hazelbaker and Noah Mizer in the other.

In a sectional Oct. 7 at UA, Atway and Schoenly defeated Steer and Ko 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 for the title after beating Holman and Shi 6-3, 6-1 in a semifinal. Steer and Ko beat Hazelbaker and Mizer 6-4, 6-4 in the other semifinal.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment and I believe it’s the first time we’ve ever had both doubles teams advance to state,” Liberty coach Will Thieman said. “Obviously, we’d love to have an all-Liberty final like we did in the sectional.”

At district, Steer and Ko rallied to beat New Albany’s Makena Romangnano and Valentina DiLorenzo 6-7 (7-5) 6-0, 6-2 in the second round, while Hazelbaker and Mizer were tested in a 7-4 (6-4), 7-5 first-round win over Dublin Jerome’s Vicki Chang and Reagan Resor.

“I’m proud of the girls,” UA coach Shaun Stamps said. “They’re going to have to be a little more aggressive in their semifinals to try to change the outcomes from the sectional, but the pressure’s off them now. I want them to go out there and experience the fun. Evelyn made it to state last year with her sister (2017 graduate Nikki Holman), but it’s new for the rest of the girls.”

Weil, who finished third at state last season, rolled into a semifinal, where she will play Olentangy’s Kathleen Jones.

“Defending the (district) title is important because I want to go into state with some confidence,” Weil said. “I’m not worried about the state seeding. I would just rather go to state with a win rather than having to think about what went wrong.”

Alcala cruised to two wins and will face Watterson’s Claire Ghidotti in the other semifinal.

Last season, Weil beat Alcala 6-2, 6-2 in the district final.

“My groundstrokes were very good today and I also served well,” Alcala said. “Making it back to state is very exciting because I had some nerves and I felt more pressure to get back than I felt last year. But I’m relieved now and I don’t think I will have as much nervousness (in the semifinal and final rounds).”

Ghidotti also was a state qualifier in 2015.

“My forehand was better than it has been lately and I think that was a confidence-booster,” Ghidotti said. “Plus, I have nothing to lose, really. This is my senior year and I have no fears. Whatever happens from here is fine because I’m going back to state.”

Division II

Academy guaranteed doubles team at state

Columbus Academy has an opportunity to represent the Central District in both singles and doubles in the Division II state tournament.

With only the district champion in singles and doubles advancing to state, the Vikings are already assured a doubles team will be moving on.

Academy’s Georgia Tuckerman and Himaja Reddy will face teammates Lexis Hughes and Maddie Tuckerman in the district final Oct. 14 at UA

On Oct. 12 at Columbus School for Girls, Georgia Tuckerman and Reddy defeated Wellington’s Haley Wilson and Avery Weisman 6-0, 6-0 in one semifinal, while the Vikings’ Maddie Tuckerman and Hughes beat CSG’s Rosie Gilatis and Helen Hoag 6-2, 6-3 in the other.

In singles, Academy’s Sydni Ratliff will face Wellington’s Akus Antwi-Woods in the district final.

None of the players in the singles and doubles finals competed at state last season.

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