HUBER HEIGHTS — Eaton and Preble Shawnee girls tennis both earned impressive finishes at the SWBL Tennis Tournament with Eaton taking home its first Southwest Division Championship in team history and Preble Shawnee finishing second in the Buckeye Division.
Eaton earns unprecedented finish
For the first time in Eaton tennis history, the Eagles earned a first place finish in the SWBL in the Southwestern Division as they dominated the SWBL Tournament on Wednesday, Sept. 30.
The Eagles won in first and third singles as well as first and second doubles en route to the SWBL Championship.
“Truthfully, probably relief more than anything if I’m being honest,” Eaton coach John Hitchcock said of winning the SWBL Championship. “Going into the day, you just kind of knew how it was going to play out. Once we had our seed meeting and saw that most of our girls got the one seed, which puts them on the top of the bracket, and then most of the other Oakwood girls got a two or three seed, which then put them in the bottom half…but, you know, with it all playing out, we were destined to meet them in the finals at all the spots.”
The Eagles had a two-point lead on Oakwood in the SWBL after winning their dual-match back in September.
“We knew we didn’t necessarily have to ‘win,’ so to speak, but the way they awarded points is we had to finish – if we met them in the finals at all five spots, we had to win two of the five to just barely win by one point,” Hitchcock said.
At first singles, sophomore Macy Hitchcock faced off against Oakwood’s Lily McCloskey.
Coach Hitchcock said that Macy “cruised” the first set, dominating 6-0, but the second set was much more competitive.
After sitting at 4-all, Macy went up 5-4 and eventually 6-5.
“[She] just said, ‘I am not playing a tiebreaker,’” Coach Hitchcock said. “Ended up winning the 12th game and won that second set 7-5.”
At second singles, Coach Hitchcock said senior Sophie Murphy had a “real tough match” with Oakwood’s second singles.
At third singles, Coach Hitchcock said junior Grace Murphy played “really strong” in the first set, winning 6-2.
After the second set hit 4-all, and then some “silly, unforced errors” by Grace, her opponent won the second set 6-4, but she immediately withdrew with a wrist injury after winning the set.
“Like I said at the beginning, that really sealed the win for us, which was great,” Coach Hitchcock said. “You just kind of wish they would have did it with the score card versus that, but, Grace was injured as well. She was playing through some really bad lower-back pain, so she outlasted the girl physically and mentally.”
First doubles with seniors Tess Murphy and Erica Wilkinson won 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.
“Every set was tightly contested,” Coach Hitchcock said. “They just hung in there and really just played well when it mattered.”
Second doubles with juniors Anna Kramer and Haneet Kang took home a win as well, who Coach Hitchcock said “played really well.”
“Them winning that league title…with this pandemic, we’ve been hearing the word unprecedented this entire 2020, but that was unprecedented,” he said.
Preble Shawnee takes second place finish
Competing a day earlier than the Eagles, Preble Shawnee earned a second place finish at the SWBL Tournament in the Buckeye Division on Tuesday, Sept. 29.
“I think the girls were really excited for the tournament,” coach Jaime Ranly said. “They felt very confident that they could win it, could take the courts. They went out that day and really played their hearts out.”
Kylie Gadd and Maggie Montgomery took home first place in first doubles, winning in two sets 7-5, 6-2.
“[Shawnee] took them in [the] regular season,” Ranly said. “They did go into a third set tiebreaker during the regular season, so I was excited to see them and happy for them to see that they were able to clean it up even a little bit easier this time around.
The Arrows also earned runner up finishes at second doubles with Hannah Riggs and Maya Davidson and at second singles with Zoey Collins.
“I’m unbelievably proud,” Ranly said of the team’s finish. “The girls came out, they played the heart out. They gave it their all. I think the girls were all in position, we had one come back from an injury, and then one come out from being out for a little bit. So, even both of those really just did an unbelievable job. So, I’m incredibly proud of them.”
Finishing the regular season with five straight wins and taking second in the SWBL, the Arrows will look to take that momentum into the OHSAA Sectionals, which were held earlier this week.
“There’s great momentum,” Ranly said. “I think they’re excited to play. It’ll be some greater competition I think this time around. We’ll practice today, get our heads set, prepared for [Tuesday]. I expect nothing else from our girls but them to go out and give it their all. They have proven that time and time again this season.”
Both the Eagles and Arrows competed at the OHSAA Sectionals on Oct. 6 and 7 at Centerville High School. The Register-Herald will have continuing coverage.
Reach Braden Moles at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @BradenMoles