Over the course of two days the girl’s tennis team experienced some highs and lows at the 2020 Sectionals tournament. Entering the tournament, the lady Eagles had secured three of the possible eight seeds. Macy Hitchcock went in as the #1 seed for singles, then sisters Sophia and Grace Murphy went in as the #1 seed in doubles, followed by Tess Murphy and Erika Wilkinson going in as the 4th seed in doubles.
The goal going into the tournament was to try and qualify as many girls as possible. For tennis, only the top four singles players and top four doubles teams get to move on to districts. There is no team element involved in the post season. It’s basically every man or in this case, girl for herself.
The highlight of the tournament came after the first day when all of our seeded players made it through to the semi-finals, therefore qualifying for districts. What made it special was the fact that it was the most girls to ever qualify at one time for Eaton. Several years ago, we advanced four girls out of the Troy sectional but to send five from the Centerville Sectional which historically has much stronger competition is quite a feat.
On the downside, two of our players had challenging matches in the first round and failed to get over that hurdle. Anna Kramer played a really solid first set against a stronger Oakwood player and narrowly lost it 4-6. However, her opponent gained some confidence moving forward and won the 2nd set 6-1. Then Haneet Kang also went in as an underdog to CJ and ended up losing in straight sets as well. Despite the losses, I thought both girls played extremely well especially after spending the entire season playing doubles together. I thought they made their opponents earn the win.
On the second day, all the qualifiers return to determine their order of finish. At singles, sophomore Macy Hitchcock continued her strong run and continued to show why she is one of the top players in the area. She won her semi-finals match over CJ 6-1, 6-0 and the CJ opponent was playing well. In the finals, she faced off once again, with Lily McCloskey from Oakwood. This would be the third time in two weeks that the two girls would have to play each other with something on the line. Lily force’s you to bring your A game and luckily for Macy she had it. Even while battling the wind, as much as her opponent, Macy for the second year in a row found herself as Champion by defeating Lily 6-1, 6-3. It was great tennis from Macy right from the start and even in the 2nd set, when Lily started to make a push, Macy just gathered herself during a changeover and took back control of the match.
On the first day of action, Eaton’s double’s teams didn’t get much competition but that would change on the next day. In the first semi-finals Sophie and Grace played the #3 seed team from Alter and won fairly straightforward. The pair played well. Hitting crisply and cleanly and finishing balls at the net. In the second semi-finals Tess and Erika found themselves in a battle with Oakwood’s best doubles team, the #2 seed. After losing the first set to Oakwood easily, 1-6, the girls started to dig their heels in and really started to rattle Oakwood. After being neck and neck for the whole set Tess and Erika finally got the last two games to win it 7-5 and force the deciding 3rd set. Before the day began, we were hoping for an all Eaton finals and this just put us closer to that scenario. Unfortunately, all the momentum we had going into the 3rd set quickly faded away as we failed to bring the same energy and intensity causing us to lose the final set 1-6.
In the finals, we were hopeful that Sophie and Grace could challenge the Oakwood team more than Tess and Erika did. It just wasn’t meant to be. We had a slow start and couldn’t really establish any rhythm. Despite a poor start, Eaton managed to get 3 games before losin 3-6. In the 2nd set, Eaton’s opponents really upped their game playing drastically different than they had in their previous match. To make matters worse, Eaton was making too many unforced errors, causing the second set to go Oakwood’s way 0-6. Giving Sophie and Grace 2nd place for the day. Even though they were disappointed in the loss it was an improvement overlast season’s 3rd place finish. And they just have to realize that they can do some damage at districts if they just keep their heads on straight and play with belief.
In the 3rd place match, Tess and Erika had to face off against the Alter team who had lost to Sophie and Grace in the semi-finals. This match was competitive as well but the Eaton girls came up short 4-6, 4-6. The disappointment is that Tess and Erika had legit chances at this match. This Alter team was solid so there is no shame in the loss but there were several spots over the course of the match that our girls could’ve flipped it in our favor. In any event, they end the tournament at 4th place. I know they were unhappy with the loss but to get these two to districts is awesome. Tess has been a great supportive spectator to her sisters for three years so I’m extremely happy that she gets to be a participant in her final year. The same goes for Erika. Tennis isn’t even her first sport of choice but she has definitely put a lot of work and effort in to get to this point. A great milestone to her senior year as well.
Districts will get under way 10/16 at Lindner Tennis Center in Mason. Where, once again, the top four singles and doubles will get to move on to the State Tournament.