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Norwalk wins Willard doubles tournament

Mark Hazelwood • Sep 8, 2019 at 10:50 AM

WILLARD — The Norwalk girls tennis team continued its impressive season by winning the five-team Willard doubles tournament on Saturday.

Norwalk finished with 14 points, as two teams won their round robin bracket, and two other tandems finished runners-up.

Orrville was second with 11 points, followed by host Willard (8), Mansfield Madison (5) and Sandusky (2).

“We did exactly what we needed to today to win the tournament,” Norwalk coach Chris Higgins said. “They executed on the court exceptionally well. The round robin format of the tournament forced each of the four positions to adjust to different styles of play.”

For the Truckers, the third doubles team of Emma Trost and Lauren Metcalf took first place, as did the No. 4 doubles team of Erin Bleile and Kennedy Friend.

At first doubles, Megan Berry and Gabby Horowitz placed second, as did the No. 2 doubles pairing of Alexa Moore and Mara Berry.

Trost and Metcalf opened with an 8-5 win over Orrville’s Jayne Wallace and Hailey Copeland, then beat Madison’s Helena Hicks and Taylor Berry by an 8-2 score in the second round. The duo beat Willard’s Becca Slone and Kalli Sowers by an 8-4 score in the third round, and swept past Sandusky’s Sierra Young and Kaiya Purdy, 8-0 to cap their four victories.

At No. 4 doubles, Bleile and Friend opened with an 8-6 win over Madison’s Natalie Reynolds and Brooke Hill, then cruised to an 8-1 win over Willard’s Vivian Barnett and Kayleigh Bowers. Bleile and Friend, who play regularly together in league matches, then blanked Sandusky’s Elizabeth Schoder and Brianna Haar and Orrville’s Sarah Mendiolla and Kayla Polascek, 8-0, to round out their day.

“Our third and fourth doubles teams really clinched the team championship for the team,” Higgins said. “Both teams were incredibly solid today.”

At first doubles, it was Megan Berry and Horowitz opening with an 8-3 win over Sandusky’s Marissa Esposito and Alana Armstrong. The pair of seniors lost an 8-5 match to Orrville’s Abby and Sydney Adcock, then rebounded with an 8-2 win over Madison’s Bailey Hill and Abriya Pierce and an 8-5 win over Willard’s Kennedy Daub and Addy Paxton.

Moore and Mara Berry started their day with an 8-1 win over Sandusky’s Abbie Wade and Anisha Chopra, then followed with an 8-4 loss to Orrville’s Claudia Adcock and Jena Rowland. They responded with wins over Madison’s Caylyn Penney and Bailey Webb (8-1) and Willard’s Natalie Van Zoest and Ella Schag (8-0).

“We knew coming into the tournament that first doubles was loaded with lots of area talent,” Higgins said. “The scores reflect just how close it was. Much like first doubles, our second doubles team was able to navigate through four matches and successfully win three of them.”

Daub and Paxton picked up wins over Madison (8-6) and Sandusky (8-7) at first doubles, while Van Zoest and Schag beat Sandusky (8-0) and Madison (8-6) at second doubles.

Slone and Sowers topped Sandusky (8-0), Madison (8-3) and Orrville (8-3) at third singles, falling to just Trost and Metcalf in the third round. Barnett and Bowers beat Sandusky (8-1) and Orrville (8-1) at fourth doubles.

“It was a very strong tournament in all four brackets,” Willard coach Josh Bauerle said. “We knew going in Orville and Norwalk would be very good across the board. But we had no idea what to expect from Sandusky and Madison. Madison was strong at every spot in the lineup, while Sandusky was one of the better teams at the top of the bracket.

“We had a unique format this year where we just played an 8-game pro set for each match, which allowed us to have every team play every other team in all four spots,” he added. “Any time you can get all your girls four matches against four solid teams, it’s a chance to get better.”

Both Norwalk and Willard have significant weeks coming up.

Norwalk hosts Sandusky on Monday, visits Bellevue on Tuesday, then plays an Ohio Tennis Coaches Association match at Lexington on Wednesday. The winner of that match advances to the Northwest Ohio semifinal round vs. Lima Shawnee.

The Truckers then host Tiffin Columbian on Thursday and visit the Tornadoes on Saturday.

“We look forward to turning our attention to the SBC Lake Division race this week,” Higgins said.

Meanwhile, Willard looks to extend its SBC Bay Division win streak beyond 31 matches when it entertains Oak Harbor on Monday that will include the resumption of a suspended match last month. Then is a big showdown at Edison on Tuesday, followed by a home match with St. Mary Central Catholic on Thursday that is also now a doubleheader.

“This was great prep for us as we had into one of our most important weeks of the season,” Bauerle said.

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