MASON, Ohio — Last year, it was Eaton’s then-sophomore Macy Hitchcock making history for Eaton tennis, bringing home the first state tennis title in school history.
This year, in addition to Hitchcock repeating as state champion at the 46th Annual Girls Tennis State Tournament held in Mason on Friday-Saturday, Oct. 22-23, freshman Mallory Hitchcock (younger sister of Macy) and senior Grace Murphy dominated the doubles bracket to earn Eaton’s first ever doubles title.
Dating back to 1976, Eaton’s domination in singles and doubles marks only the 11th time ever in Ohio Division II girls tennis that a school has won both the singles and doubles titles in the same year. Columbus Bexley (1976-78, 1982), Cincinnati Indian Hill (1984-86) and Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown (2016-18) are the only other schools to accomplish this feat.
“Much like we said last year, if you go out and look at all the banners, look at all those schools, and given the kind of districts that they are in and just affluent nature of the sport and kind of based on where we’re at, to be able to pull some like this off, it’s historical in and of itself,” Eaton coach John Hitchcock said, who is also Macy and Mallory’s father. “So, to be able to do that is very special and I think just a great point for the school.”
Singles and doubles both dispatched their first two matchups, with Macy winning 6-0, 6-1 over Akron Archbishop Hoban’s Haley Slay and 6-4, 6-4 over Shaker Heights Laurel’s Ellie Brotherton. Doubles defeated Gates Mills Hawken’s Anjail Jawa and Beatrice Hardacre 6-0, 6-1, and claimed a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy’s Lynn Kader and Payton Puryear to move on to the semfinals.
“Very happy with the matches,” Coach Hitchcock said. “I think Macy’s one tougher one was in the qualifying round yesterday. We saw that ahead of time and knew that was going to be a challenge. You don’t always want to look ahead, but if she was lucky enough to get through that, we thought the semifinals, she might be able to handle well, but again, girls and tennis and nerves and everything…so, that played out well.”
In the semifinals against Chardon Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin’s Elena Fleming, Macy dropped the first game of the match but rattled off six straight games to take the first set. In the second set, Macy won the first two games en route to a comfortable 6-2 win, moving on to the finals against Pepper Pike Orange’s Alexis Nyborg, who Macy defeated 6-3, 6-0 in the semifinals last year.
For the doubles team, it was more smooth sailing with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Richfield Revere’s Maddie Kavenagh and Morgan Dobos to move on to the finals against Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown School’s Kate Mills and Ally Mills, who made it to the second round of the doubles tournament last season.
Despite the dominance the doubles duo was displaying, they have only been playing together since the sectional tournament held in early October.
“Astronomical,” Coach Hitchcock said of their development at doubles. “At sectionals they weren’t pushed, so you didn’t really see what they were made out of. They kind of had a fairly straightforward sectionals, but then making it here, you know, the first day of districts, you could tell there was some nerves they were fighting through.”
In the finals against Nyborg, Macy again dropped the first game of the match just to win six straight games and secure the first set 6-1. In the second set, Macy won the first three games, but Nyborg outlasted Macy in the fourth game to make it 3-1.
However, this year did not have the drama associated with last year’s comeback, and Macy rattled off three of the next four games to secure the 6-2 win in the second set and repeat as Division II singles state champion.
“Honestly, I think she was just dialed in with Alexis in the finals,” Coach Hitchcock said. “Alexis probably was the on her quite “A” game, and I think some of that had to do with Macy. Compared to last year, it was a nice match. The whole time you’re wondering if we can still continue that way, but she kept getting games, and before you knew it that was all she needed.”
For Macy’s title defense, Coach Hitchcock said it was easier for her to get to the top of the mountain than it was staying there this season.
“She took everybody’s best shot this year,” he said. “She had one little blemish at the very start of the season, but again, I think that helped her a little bit. You know, you already come in with a loss and you’re not worried about undefeated record or anything like that and just try to focus on the task at hand. She’s a battler. Sometimes she makes it harder on herself than what she needs to, but she still finds a way to grind out and get the win.”
On the court right next to Macy’s title defense, Mallory and Grace Murphy had gained a 3-2 advantage in the first set, and would go on to win it 6-2 as the crowd trickled in to watch Eaton sweep the state tennis titles.
The doubles duo won the first four games in the second set, and after the Mills won a game to make it 4-1, Mallory and Grace Murphy won the next two games to take home Eaton’s first ever doubles championship, 6-2, 6-1.
“I was proud that they were able to do what they did at districts by winning it,” Coach Hitchcock said. “I didn’t think they had tapped into their best tennis, and I think here, luckily, it just freed up a little bit and [they] played well.”
Though he is proud of all three state champions for the Eagles, including Murphy who won a state title in her first year in the state tournament, Coach Hitchcock said it was particularly special to watch his daughters win state titles.
“You see all the hard work that goes into it,” he said. “It is them doing most of it. You try to keep them straight and narrow and keep them from going off the ledge at times, but really – truly, truly proud, because not only are they excelling here, they excel academically, and that’s not always the case. For them to be able to manage both sides is just really a true testament to their character and makeup.”
Reach Braden Moles at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @BradenMoles