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Singles serve Lady Bombers CVC title
Singles serve Lady Bombers CVC title
By TONY LANGE
The Kenston girls tennis team didn't "put a ring on it" after claiming the Chagrin Valley Conference title last Thursday, but the Bombers could have jammed out to Beyonce en route to triumphs from all their single ladies.
At the conference tournament, senior Mandy Marchant won the first singles court, sophomore Tasha Birze won the second singles court, and freshman Nicole Doran won the third singles court.
"All the single ladies, all the single ladies."
"Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh."
Kenston head coach Greg Aten said it was the first time the Lady Bombers claimed championships on all three singles courts during his time coaching at the school.
"Nicole Doran had a huge win, because Mandy and Tasha were undefeated in regular season conference play, but Nicole had a loss to Nayana Ravishankar from Hawken," Aten said. "Then she came back and beat her in straight sets in the tournament, which is a big win. For a freshman, that is exciting."
During the regular season, the Lady Bombers went 4-0 against conference opponents Hawken, Chagrin Falls, Orange and Beachwood, and, therefore, they claimed the outright title after sharing it with the Lady Tigers and Lady Hawks last season.
In doubles tournament action, Kenston's first doubles team of Kathleen Swanson and Miranda Kyle finished as runners-up to Chagrin Falls' Riley White and Kelsey Guzik in a 6-3, 6-4 finals match.
Meanwhile, Kenston's second doubles team of Kendall Althans and Lynn Jiao finished fourth while beating Orange's Jaclyn Roth and Maddie Rico in a 6-2, 6-1 consolation match.
Overall, the Lady Bombers scored 21 points to best Chagrin Falls, 16 points, Hawken, 16 points, Beachwood, 13 points, and Orange, nine points.
The tournament began on Kenston's outdoor varsity courts, where Marchant won her first match, 6-0, 6-1, against Chagrin's Katie Widman.
As the No. 1 seed, Marchant had a bye to the afternoon finals, which took place indoors at the Chagrin Valley Athletic Club after it started to rain.
In the finals, Dayton recruit Marchant faced Orange's Adrian Young, who she beat during the regular season.
"It's a really friendly rivalry," Marchant said. "It was just every game back and forth. I would hold serve, and then she would hold serve. So it'd be like 2-3, 4-3, 5-4, and I think she was still up, 5-4, and I had to come back and play up to 7-6 in the tiebreaker. It was just intense and close, and you have to just keep your focus and never give up on a single point."
Marchant went on to win the match, 7-6, 6-3.
"I was able to relax and just tell myself that I know I'm going to win this, and I had a positive attitude the whole time," she said. "This was my first time individually winning first team, and so that felt really great and well accomplished, because I was playing the best tennis I have been this year. And also it was great for my team, because we won it outright, and last year we tied three way."
On the second singles court, Birze dominated her matches, 6-0, 6-0, against Beachwood's Shannon Finkenthal, and 6-0, 6-1 in the finals against Hawken's Emily Leizman.
"It felt good," Birze said. "The girl I played in the finals I had already played her in the regular season, and I kind of had a tougher match against her, but the scores really didn't show that. I was just happy with how I played."
Birze was the only player to return to the CVC second singles bracket from last season as all her competitors from last year either graduated or were bumped to a different court.
"It was really good, because I lost in the finals last year, so it was just really good to win it this year on my home court," she said. "So it was fun."
With the regular season now over, Marchant and Birze will team up on the doubles court for postseason tournament play.
As a junior-freshman combo last season, they qualified for the Division I state tournament and won their first match, 6-3, 6-1, against another junior-freshman duo from Toledo Notre Dame Academy. But they lost their second match, 6-3, 7-6 (7-2), to eventual state champions Lauren Bellinger and Sarah Stein from Dublin Jerome.
Bellinger and Stein return this season as seniors.
"It came up a lot faster than I thought, and now it's here," Marchant said about sectional play, which starts Oct. 4 at Solon. "I just feel more ready than ever, because I just have a really good feeling about it this year. I think I'm more confident, my partner is more confident. We're playing really well together, and we're also really good friends."
"Last year I was so nervous, especially because I didn't want to play bad," Birze said about her debut state berth as a freshman. "But I just feel more experienced this year, and like I have more doubles under my belt. So I feel pretty confident about that."
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