Junior Elaine Cloern and freshman Audrey Berger of the Upper Arlington High School girls tennis team overcame adversity to place third in doubles in the Division I state tournament.

Junior Elaine Cloern and freshman Audrey Berger of the Upper Arlington High School girls tennis team overcame adversity to place third in doubles in the Division I state tournament.

Cloern and Berger lost to Dublin Jerome's Lauren Bellinger and Sarah Stein - the eventual state champions - 7-5, 6-2 in a state semifinal but rebounded to defeat Springboro's Aundrea Busse and Julie Brockman 6-1, 6-3 in the third-place match Oct. 22 at Elysium Tennis Center in Plain City.

"It took us about 15 minutes to (refocus)," Berger said. "After that, it was like the (semifinal) match never happened. We just let it go."

"We had a tough match against Jerome, but we just kind of started over in (the third-place) match," Cloern said. "We played as hard as we could and it ended up working out for us."

The top three finishers in doubles in the Division I state tournament were from central Ohio, as Bellinger and Stein defeated Watterson's Lauren Ghidotti and Katie Shepherd 0-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) in the state final.

The state tournament was moved from Ohio State to the indoor courts at Elysium Tennis Center because of bad weather.

Cloern and Berger's nearly lost in the first round. They lost the first set of their opening-round match against Canfield's Allison Pavlansky and Gabrielle Bryant but rallied to win 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 on Oct. 21. Later that day, they defeated Mason's Nina Cepeda and Lynn Kelly 7-5, 6-4 in a quarterfinal.

"The first round was just kind of us getting familiar and getting adjusted to the level that we needed to play in," Cloern said. "Once we knuckled down and got the key things down that we needed to do, we just executed really well."

"That first-round match really got our heads in gear," Berger said.

Cloern and Berger had qualified for state by placing fourth in the district tournament Oct. 14 and 15 at Hilliard Davidson.

The last time a doubles team advanced to a state semifinal in Division I after placing fourth at district was 2005, when Toledo Notre Dame Academy's Tara Majdalani and Meredith Morse accomplished the feat.

"We really weren't suppose to get this far," said coach Shaun Stamps, whose team has had a singles player or doubles team place in the top four at state every year since 2007. "The pressure was not on us. The pressure was on Jerome and on Springboro to beat us. This was our opportunity to say, 'Hey, we've got nothing to lose here.'"

Cloern and Berger were the only state qualifiers for UA, which finished 16-2 overall and was ranked second in the final OTCA Division I state poll. Its two losses were to Jerome, as the Golden Bears lost 5-0 on Sept. 29 and 3-0 in an OTCA district final on Oct. 17.

UA went 7-0 in OCC-Central Division dual matches and won titles on four of the five courts in the league tournament Oct. 4 at home. The Bears won the league title with 72 of a possible 77 points, finishing ahead of Dublin Coffman (5-2, 54), Hilliard Davidson (6-1, 46), Worthington Kilbourne (4-3, 37), Thomas Worthington (3-4, 29), Hilliard Darby (2-5, 18), Central Crossing (1-6, 9) and Westland (0-7, 3). The championship was the Bears' 23rd in a row.

In the league tournament, sophomore Andi Smart defeated Coffman's Krissy Tzagournis 6-1, 6-0 in the third-singles final, seniors Caroline Pema and Grace Buse defeated Coffman's Amber Lee and Meghan Letizia 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 in the first-doubles final and sophomore Beniva Ganther and junior Lauren Stechschulte defeated Coffman's Jenny Yang and Sarah Yang 6-4, 6-0 in the second-doubles final. Berger won the second-singles title by default over Kilbourne's Claire Metka.

Cloern lost to Coffman's Ashwatha Thenappan 6-2, 6-1 in the first-singles final.

Six of UA's seven players who played in the sectional on Oct. 6 and 8 at home qualified for district. At district, Ganther lost to Thenappan 6-4, 6-2 in the first round, Smart lost to New Albany's Cristina DiLorenzo 6-0, 6-0 in the first round and the doubles team of Pema and Buse lost to Jerome's Emma Schnell and Mara Sheley 6-3, 6-3 in the first round.

Pema and Buse are the only two players the Bears will lose to graduation. Berger, Cloern, Ganther, Smart, Stechschulte and juniors Emma Klebe, Jessica Patton, and Anna Tatakis are expected to return.

"Grace and Caroline were an important part of our foundation," Stamps said. "They were one of the courts I could count on every match. It's always difficult when you lose that kind of leadership."