MASON — Olentangy Liberty High School girls tennis coach Will Thieman said he hadn’t always seen the grit from Maddie Atway and Dani Schoenly that the two freshmen displayed Oct. 21 at the end of the Division I state doubles final.
Leading 5-4 in the second set, Atway and Schoenly fended off a late challenge from Cincinnati Ursuline Academy’s Nina Dhaliwal and Gabriella O’Connor to win 6-1, 7-6 (7-6) at Lindner Family Tennis Center and capture the Patriots’ first state championship.
“They fought through. It wasn’t easy, but they never backed down,” Thieman said. “They pulled through at a big time. They both pumped each other up. They leaned on each other and got through it together. It was awesome.”
Atway and Schoenly, who also defeated Rocky River Magnificat’s Olivia Rondini and Alexandra Vesikallio 6-2, 6-3 in a semifinal, did not drop a set in four matches at state.
“We knew this tournament would be hard. Everything wasn’t going to be the way we wanted it to be,” Schoenly said. “All the teams we played were really good. We knew we had to adapt to any situation that we had.”
Pickerington North sophomore Cassie Alcala and Columbus Academy freshman Sydni Ratliff were runners-up in singles in Divisions I and II, respectively.
Alcala survived a three-hour semifinal against Mason’s Ananya Aggarwal, winning 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, but ran out of gas in the final against Magnificat’s Anna Roggenburk and lost 6-0, 6-0.
“I was just happy to be on the court in the final and win that semifinal match,” Alcala said. “The (semifinal) was tiring. (Roggenburk) is such a great player. I was glad to have the opportunity to be here.”
Ratliff defeated Cincinnati Summit Country Day’s Elizabeth Fahrmeier 6-3, 6-1 in a semifinal but lost to Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown’s Nicole Gillinov 6-2, 6-4 in the championship match.
“(Gillinov) was very consistent. She didn’t really miss,” Ratliff said. “She grinds through her matches. I wasn’t playing my best tennis. That definitely showed in the result.”
Centennial’s Zoey Weil lost to Roggenburk 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 in a Division I semifinal but rebounded to beat Aggarwal 6-0, 6-1 for third place.
“(Aggarwal) is really fast and she gets a lot of balls back,” Weil said. “She was making a few errors, but I was hitting the ball well and probably forcing a few of them.”