One week after accomplishing the unthinkable, beating Oakwood in their dual match, the girls tennis team had to gear up and try to pull it off again in the SWBL Tournament (Southwestern Division). This time the strategy would be a little different going into the tournament than the dual match. The team went with their traditional lineup because of the way the tournament does the scoring. Every position is awarded a certain point total based on where the players finish. So given the fact that the team had a small lead going into the tournament, we knew we had to make it to the finals at every position, from 1st singles to 2nd doubles and face off against Oakwood in every match. And if that scenario played out, the Eagles would only have to win two of the five positions since they took a two point lead with them entering the day. Still a challenging task but not as daunting as if we needed to win four or five of them.
As the day progressed both teams were doing what was expected. Eaton began the day getting all the top seeds except for the 2nd singles position and took care of their opponents in the semifinals without much issue to advance to the finals. In the meantime, as suspected, Oakwood reached all five finals as well. So, now the show down begins.
At 1st singles, Macy Hitchcock once again faced off against Oakwood’s #1 just a week after a dramatic win. This time Macy came out fast and won the 1st set 6-0. However, as history has shown, Lily doesn’t go away without a fight and the second set was neck and neck til the very end. Macy trailed the entire set then finally broke serve at 4-4 to go up 5-4. Then couldn’t hold serve herself and now it’s 5 all . After a long service game by Oakwood, Macy is able to capitalize on some strong offensive shots and breaks back to go up 6-5. Serving for the match for the second time, she really dialed in and focused on 4 strong points. She refused to let it get to a tiebreaker and won the set 7-5. Getting us just 1 point away from the league title.
At 2nd singles, Sophia Murphy played a really nice match in her semi-finals against Bellbrook. Earlier in the season she had a very competitive match with the same girl. On this day though, after getting used to some significant wind, she found her game and won 6-3, 6-1. In the finals, she would face Oakwood’s #2 player who was a district qualifier last season and
an all around solid player. We were hoping Sophia could duplicate her play from the previous match but unfortunately she was committing too many unforced errors and when she tried to play safe, her opponent would eventually take over the point. It was not Sophia’s best match. We just couldn’t seem to get her dialed in to the right game plan. After going 3 sets with the same girl last season, we thought she might have a shot but she lost 6-1, 6-1. So one point Oakwood.
At 3rd singles, Grace Murphy was battling a sore lower back as much as she was opponents. And in a sort of desperate move, Oakwood had moved their top doubles player to 3rd singles to try and take Grace out, who has been playing extremely well all season. In the first set, Grace played extremely well. She was dictating most of the points and really controlling the match. She won the first set 6-2. The the second started off a little tighter. Her opponent raised her game up a level and started going for more of her shots and making them. They stayed on serve til 4-4, then Grace had a few untimely errors which caused her to lose the 2nd set 4-6. However, there was a price to pay for winning the 2nd set. Grace’s opponent couldn’t endure playing another full 3rd set and withdrew with an injury. Grace, with her bad back, outlasted her opponent physically and mentally. Grace was fully preparing to go to battle in the 3rd set but this withdrawal now made it official. The Eaton girl’s tennis team were SWBL Champions for the first time in school history. A feat nearly 40 years in the making for girls and well over 40 years for a boys team.
The Eagles were not finished, however. With both doubles teams still involved with matches, the Eaton team was able to put a resounding exclamation point on the championship by winning both courts and securing 1st place for the teams of Tess and Erika at 1st doubles and Anna and Haneet at 2nd Doubles. The marathon match went to Tess and Erika as they had to outlast a feisty Oakwood team 6-4, 4-6, 7-5. I was especially proud of T & E. They were down 1-4 in the first set and managed to get it to go their way shows real heart and fight. Then to lose the 2nd set in close fashion only to hang tough throughout a very competitive 3rd set. I hope this match stays with them during sectionals. To persevere in this way could have a real positive carry over effect which could help them make some of their own history in the sectional tournament.
Then Anna and Haneet went the complete opposite direction in their match over Oakwood by dominating right from the start and not stopping until the very last point. They beat Oakwood 6-0, 6-1 giving the pair their first ever SWBL title at 2nd doubles. That was a bit of a surprise to me but I think even more to them. The win was emphatic and decisive and very fitting as one of the last matches played.
The win ended up giving Eaton 4 first place finishes for the day and one 2nd place finish. Eaton finished with 57 points to Oakwood’s 52. Bellbrook followed with 41, Valley View 26, Monroe 18, Franklin 11, and Brookville 5.
It was truly an exciting day for our team and the girls themselves. We knew what was at stake and knew exactly what needed done to get there . To see them accomplish this feat is very rewarding not to mention a relief. To know that they are part of history and that they earned this title definitely puts a smile on your face.
We know 2020 hasn’t been a stellar year and most people want to put it behind them but I’m sure glad these girl’s will have these highlights and this season as some bright spots to look back on in an otherwise forgettable year. The best part is there still an opportunity for more success as the girls prepare for sectionals and hopefully beyond.