DAYTON — Eaton’s girls tennis team had its best-ever finish in league play this season.
The Eagles finished second in the Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division last week after qualifying for all five final spots.
“We had our best team finish for a girl’s team in school history by placing second. We went into the tournament with a slight edge over Bellbrook and only trailing Oakwood. At the end of the day, we were in the finals at every position, which is another school first,” Eaton coach John Hitchcock said. “Unfortunately so was Oakwood. And this season, Oakwood is easily the top team in the Miami Valley and could possibly finish as the top team in the state.”
Due to weather, the event was played at the 5 Seasons Sports Club, in Dayton, on Wednesday, Sept. 26. The first round matches had to be abbreviated with pro sets to 8.
Oakwood won the team title followed by Eaton, Bellbrook, Monroe, Valley View, Brookville, and Franklin.
At 1st singles, Sophia Murphy defeated Franklin 8-1, then defeated Bellbrook 6-2, 6-2, then lost to Oakwood 1-6, 0-6. Oakwood’s No. 1 player was a state qualifier last year as a freshman.
“Sophia actually hit very well with her and consistently had strong points. She just didn’t have enough to get the games turned in her favor,” Hitchcock said.
At 2nd singles, Grace Murphy defeated Monroe 8-4, then had a grueling match with Bellbrook that she finally pulled out after almost 3 hours, winning in 3 sets, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4.
According to Hitchcock, after that, she just couldn’t bring the energy to her finals match, losing to Oakwood 0-6, 1-6.
At 3rd singles, Tess Murphy earned a bye in the 1st round, then defeated Franklin 6-1, 6-0, then ran into a very motivated Oakwood player.
“Earlier in the season, Tess was the only one able to win her dual match against Oakwood. This girl remembered,” Hitchcock said. Tess lost 0-6, 1-6.
“Tess did not play horribly but she definitely wasn’t at the same level as she had been,” Hitchcock said.
At 1st doubles, Addie Bell and Brianna Ward defeated Brookville 8-2, then in spectacular fashion, they avenged an earlier loss to Monroe, beating them in 3 sets 6-2, 6-7, 6-4.
“That was a very sweet win for the girls who entered the tournament as the No. 3.seed,” Hitchcock said.
The duo lost in the finals, 0-6, 1-6.
At 2nd doubles, Anna Kramer and Erika Wilkinson defeated Franklin 8-0, then defeated Bellbrook 6-3, 6-3, and lost their finals 0-6, 0-6.
“This was a great experience for our young doubles team. I’m very proud of their tournament especially given their experience level,” Hitchcock said.
Hitchcock said he was happy with the results.
“I was extremely pleased with day overall. Our girls are tough, resilient, and able to endure numerous inconvenient conditions. And they are young,” he said. “So I really want them growing and developing so they can return stronger yet.”
The team closed out the regular season with a 5-0 loss at Kettering Archbishop Alter on Saturday, Sept. 29. It was the first time this season Eaton didn’t win at least one court.
”As odd as it sounds, this was a very good match for us. First of all it was played in a slightly unusual manner. This was not a regular scheduled match for us. During the season we had a couple of cancellations and in the meantime Alter was really positioning themselves as the 2nd best team in the area behind Oakwood and we were the 4th ranked team in Division 2,” Hitchcock said. “So I reached out to the Alter coach trying to arrange a match full well knowing there was a slim chance of us winning it. That’s not what we were after though. I really wanted to see how we matched up No. 1, and No. 2 to show our girls that there is still a lot of work to do on our end. Two of the courts we were in. Grace at 2nd singles and Tess at 3rd singles had opportunities to win their matches. (We) have no reason to hold (our) head down as Alter has two singles players seeded and two doubles teams seeded in the upcoming Dayton sectional tournament. We definitely plan to schedule them for next year. If these girls really want to be the best, then you have to beat the best.“
At 1st singles Sophia Murphy lost to Grace Lampman 0-6, 1-6.
At 2nd singles Grace Murphy lost to Emily Pojman 3-6, 2-6.
At 3rd singles Tess Murphy lost to Ashley Fowler 6-4, 1-6 , 0-1 (4).
At 1st doubles Addie Bell and Brianna Ward lost to Rachel Hawley and Sara Yacoub 2-6, 0-6.
At 2nd doubles Anna Kramer and Erika Wilkinson lost to Rachael Barker and Mary Stiff 1-6, 1-6.
Eaton is scheduled to begin sectional play this week at Troy. The top four in each bracket will advance to the district next week.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH