Upper Arlington Roundup: Girls tennis squad doubles fun at state

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Upper Arlington's Ava Richard competes in the OHSAA Division I state tournament Oct. 23 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason. Richard also helped the Golden Bears reach the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I state team tournament.

The Upper Arlington girls tennis team spent much of last week preparing for its second consecutive appearance in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I state tournament.

Four players, coach Shaun Stamps and assistant coach Dick Cassie pulled double duty, as they also worked toward the OHSAA Division I state tournament Oct. 23 and 24 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.

The doubles teams of Megan Basil and Ella Hazelbaker and Noah Mizer and Ava Richard finished first and third, respectively, in the OHSAA tournament, with Basil and Hazelbaker going 4-0 and defeating Centerville’s Caroline Hinshaw and Clara Owen 7-6, 6-3 in the final, but work for one tournament did not necessarily fall hand in hand with the other.

Basil, Hazelbaker and Emma Wang played singles in OTCA matches, including a 3-0 win at Olentangy Liberty in the district final Oct. 22. The Bears fell to Mason 3-2 in the state final Oct. 25 at Reynoldsburg, finishing 17-3 and coming up a win short of their first OTCA title since 2013.

Mizer and Richard remained at doubles, as they had all season. UA’s other doubles team was Ellis Mizer and Isabella Roth.

“It’s definitely more challenging competing for two. We’re grateful, because not every team has that chance, but it is a challenge,” said Noah Mizer, a senior who was competing in her second OHSAA state tournament. “For us, it’s not that hard because we play doubles for (individual state) and team state, but Megan and Ella, they play singles in the OTCA matches and doubles here. It’s about making sure we have a balance in practice and just keeping focus.”

Hazelbaker, who has played first singles most of her UA career and was in her third state tournament in four years, said practices were broken into sessions for OTCA and OHSAA tournament preparation.

“I don’t feel any stress trying to get both of them in. It’s more of an honor to be able to compete for both (championships),” Hazelbaker said. “I feel like in doubles, you’re more aggressive and attacking trying to get the volley, at least for my game. For singles, I’m always trying to make shots until I get an approaching shot where I can attack.”

In addition to team achievements, Basil added to a strong family legacy within the program. Her father, Brian, played for UA, and uncle Ben won the state doubles championship in 1994 with Austin Hawley and went on to play at Ohio State.

“It’s funny. Everyone always asks me if I am related to either of them and I’m like, ‘Yep, that’s my dad and uncle,’ ” Basil said.

While the Bears used last year’s third-place finish in the OTCA state tournament as motivation this season, Richard said the memory of not advancing to district a year ago motivated her and Mizer.

“We have a good rhythm. When we’re on, we can play anyone,” Richard said. “Last year was tough because we had a tough draw and didn’t get out of sectional. I’ve been looking forward to this chance ever since. We just want this (winning) to keep continuing this year and next year.”

Charlie Nowinski led the UA boys cross country team with a seventh-place finish in the OCC-Central meet Oct. 17 at Westerville North.

Nowinski, Steiner lead runners at OCC 

Top-10 finishes for girls cross country runners Aubrey Steiner and Lydia Schoedinger led UA to third place in a competitive OCC-Central Division meet Oct. 17 at Westerville Central.

Steiner was sixth (19 minutes, 13.2 seconds), one spot ahead of Schoedinger (19:15.1), as the Bears scored 68 points and finished third behind Hilliard Davidson (18) and Dublin Coffman (67) and ahead of Olentangy Orange (98), Liberty (100) and Hilliard Bradley (190).

Davidson and Coffman were ranked first and 19th, respectively, in last week’s Division I state poll.

Also scoring for the Bears were Elizabeth Lembach (12th, 19:42.9), Maggie Malone (28th, 20:48.2) and Rian Adkins (34th, 21:15.8).

Charlie Nowinski’s seventh-place finish (16:20) led the boys team to 90 points and fourth place behind Davidson (32), Coffman (68) and Orange (86) and ahead of Bradley (115) and Liberty (133). Nowinski was followed by Alex Nicol (18th, 16:52), Ryan Card (23rd, 17:00.4), Payton Domagalski (24th, 17:02.8) and Thomas McMahon (25th, 17:03.1).

UA began the postseason Oct. 24 with Division I district meets at Hilliard Darby. The boys, ranked 14th in last week’s state poll, were in district 2, from which the top five teams and individuals finishing in the top 20 not on qualifying teams advanced to regional Saturday, Oct. 31, at Pickerington North. The girls were in district 3, from which the top six teams and top 24 individuals advanced.

Volleyball team falls in first round

A Division I district tournament first-round matchup that girls volleyball coach Chris Van Arsdale saw as favorable for his team turned out that way at times Oct. 20, but 27th-seeded UA fell to host and 10th-seeded Pickerington Central 25-19, 25-22, 25-23.

UA finished 6-14 overall and 3-6 in an OCC-Central that featured Orange – the top seed in the district tournament and fifth-ranked team in the state poll – as well as Coffman and Liberty. The Shamrocks were seeded fifth and the Patriots seventh for the district tournament.

“I think it was a good matchup. We lost in three but we were there in every (game) and could have taken every one of them,” Van Arsdale said. “Coming from such a strong league, that’s a lot of help for us in terms of seeing such strong competition but on the opposite side of that, Pickerington Central got a whole lot of wins and a lot of confidence throughout the whole season. That can make a difference. I don’t know if it did here, but it could have. We fought hard.”

Central, which improved to 18-4, went 10-0 in the OCC-Buckeye.

The Bears finished fourth in the OCC-Central behind champion Orange (10-0) but did not play all 10 scheduled matches. An Oct. 6 visit to Liberty was canceled because the Patriots were under a COVID-19 quarantine.

UA graduates two of its top hitters in Erin Murphy and Carly Ness as well as libero/defensive specialist Hannah Sprouse and setter Amelia Van Arsdale, the coach’s daughter.

Key players expected to return include juniors Jenna Harold (outside hitter/defensive specialist), Macy Medors (libero) and Sophia Schweisthal (middle hitter) and sophomore Lilian Entenmann (middle/outside hitter).

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekDave 

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL 

•Record: 6-14 overall 

•OCC-Central standings: Olentangy Orange (10-0), Dublin Coffman (6-4), Olentangy Liberty (5-2), Upper Arlington (3-6), Hilliard Bradley (2-7), Hilliard Davidson (1-8) 

•Seniors lost: Erin Murphy, Carly Ness, Hannah Sprouse and Amelia Van Arsdale 

•Key returnees: Lilian Entenmann, Jenna Harold, Macy Medors and Sophia Schweisthal 

•Postseason: Lost to Pickerington Central 25-19, 25-22, 25-23 in first round of Division I district tournament