CENTERVILLE — It’s been an historic season in many ways for Eaton’s girls tennis team.
That success continued last week as the Eagles advanced three to the district tournament.
“This was a big week for (us) as (we) found some success in a very tough Centerville Sectional,” Eaton coach John Hitchcock said.
After having some great success playing in the Troy Sectional for the last two seasons, the Lady Eagles found themselves back at Centerville, which is normally a much more grueling tournament of the two because of contending with the likes of Oakwood, Alter, Chaminade Julienne, and The Miami Valley School, which are historically the stronger tennis schools in the area.
”This is primarily why Eaton has never had a district qualifier come from Centerville. Only the top four singles players and top four doubles teams get to advance to districts,” he said.
Fortunately for the Eagles, this roster is their strongest ever and they were able to capitalize.
Based on her undefeated season and wins over the other top players, freshman Macy Hitchcock went in as the No. 1 seed and lived up to it.
She won her first three matches without much struggle on Thursday, Oct. 3, then returned on Saturday where she faced off against Oakwood’s normal No. 2 singles player in the semi-finals.
She won the match 6-2, 6-4.
“She really made her earn it and even made a strong push in the second set as Macy was up 5-2 and proceeded to lose two games before finally closing the match out,” he dad and coach said.
In the finals, for the third time in a matter of weeks, she was up against Oakwood’s No. 1 singles player. And for the third time, she was able to get the win by playing extremely focused and being highly motivated to get one of the No. 1 seeds going into sectionals.
“I’ve seen her play a ton of tennis and she was really determined in this match,” the coach said. “I also think she got a wake up call in her semi-finals match by letting the girl come back and a week earlier, Macy had an extremely close match with this same opponent in the finals of SWBL. That contributed to her coming out strong and fast right from the start. She won 6-1, 6-2 becoming Eaton’s first ever sectional champion as a freshman in girls or boys tennis.”
She remains undefeated at 30-0 and will hope to make another first at districts by qualifying for state.
The other qualifiers for Eaton came in the pair of sisters Sophia and Grace Murphy who managed to place third in doubles.
“Since sectionals are strictly about individual results and there is no team element whatsoever we decided to pair our next strongest players as a doubles team,” Hitchcock said. “Since only the top four advance, it becomes a numbers game and despite how good they are as singles players, Sophia and Grace were going to be challenged to crack the top four. Luckily as a doubles team they went in as the No. 3 seed and lived up to it becoming Eaton’s first doubles team to advance from the Centerville Sectional.”
The coach said if the two were going to struggle it wasn’t going to be because of their game, it was going to be more due to being sisters.
“To be completely honest, I never had a worry about their tennis. It was strictly, could they get along with each other as sisters. If they could restrain from bickering, arguing, and finger pointing I knew they could advance,” he said.
With three solid wins over Alter, MVS, and CJ they had to face off with Oakwood’s No. 1 team.
”We came up short losing 4-6, 2-6 but Sophia and Grace played very well and competitively. We really put some good pressure on them and forced them to up their level of play,” he said.
Then for third place, the girls had to play Oakwood’s No. 2 doubles team and won 6-4, 6-4.
“This was a great win for our girls. Even though (we were) the higher seed this Oakwood team has played together for multiple seasons and had great chemistry. The Eaton pair truly played inspired tennis and I felt they played for each other,” the coach said. “It was a truly entertaining match and fun to be apart of because you really could feel the tension and pressure. Losing was not going to be acceptable for either pair.”
To round out the day on Thursday, the other singles girls managed first round wins before matching up with the stronger seeds in the second round.
Anna Kramer played a strong match winning over Preble Shawnee 6-0, 6-0, before losing to Alter’s No. 3 seed.
Haneet Kang also got a win over Preble Shawnee 6-1, 6-3, before succumbing to the No. 4 seed from Oakwood.
The bad match up of the day, according to the coach, went to Tess Murphy and Erika Wilkinson, who unfortunately had to face off against the No. 2 seeded doubles team from CJ.
“They played hard and fought til the end but just get anything going as CJ proved to be to strong. This was simply bad luck,” the coach said. “Tess and Erika were one of the better doubles teams here, they just got a bad draw and they were the team that really paid the price for moving back to this sectional.”
The district tournament is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 10 and Saturday, Oct. 12 at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason. Play is set to begin at 9 a.m.