“Come on. Keep fighting. We can do this.”
These are just a few of the hundreds of phrases Elyria Catholic freshman Michelle Mueller said she and fellow freshman Shannon Tomshack conveyed to each other during their marathon march to the second doubles championship at the Lorain County Athletic Administrators Association tournament last weekend.
The second-seeded Panthers played through 78 games en route to the title, going to three sets in all three of their matches.
They defeated Lake Ridge’s Cook and Ziska 0-6, 6-4, 7-5 in the quarterfinals, Avon’s Adams and Ramadugu 7-6 (7-5),
4-6, 6-4 in the semifinals and Avon Lake’s Maddie Shanko and Jessica Began 0-6,
6-4, 11-9 — they played a 10-point tiebreaker due to threatening weather — in the final.
“It was very exhausting, but it was fun, though,” Tomshack said. “Even if we hadn’t won, it still would have been fun playing all those games.”
The championship run was impressive because of the girls’ youth, their resilience after being forced into one third set after another and the fact they upset the top-seeded Shoregals in the finale.
“They were a really good team,” Mueller said. “But we had a lot of support from our team and from our coaches and from each other.”
“We’d say little things to each other between each point,” Tomshack said. “We were trying to pump each other up.”
All three matches were played Saturday — the first-round matches were played Friday night — so the 78 games all took place in about a nine-hour span.
“Never — not as long as I’ve been coaching,” Panthers coach Terry Butler said when asked if he’d every seen such a run. “I’ve talked to several other coaches since and they’ve never seen anything like it, either.
“We were surprised they put themselves in the position they did because neither of them had any real experience at doubles. We were obviously thrilled with the result.”
A Shore thing
No performance was as dominating at this weekend’s LCAAA tournament than the one turned in by Avon Lake’s Jenna Goedde. The sophomore blew through the competition — dropping just four games — en route to the third singles championship.
“This weekend went really well,” Goedde said. “Everything seemed to be falling in and it seemed like I was making all my shots. I wanted to do well and use this tournament to help build toward the rest of the season. It was a strong confidence boost for this weekend, too.”
Goedde will re-team with Cassie Simmelink, who finished runner-up in second singles at the LCAAA, for the Southwestern Conference tournament at Avon Lake on Saturday. The event will serve as a warm up for the pair, as it tries to better its postseason run from a year ago, when the Shoregals made it to the district tournament.
“I like both (singles and doubles),” Goedde said. “It’s been about 50-50 so far this season. (Shoregals coach) Rich (Mostardi) makes the decision depending on how we match up with the team we’re facing.”
Goedde said that she and Simmelink have faced many first doubles teams that they could potentially meet in the postseason already this year, but when they are competing in singles they still keep an eye on the first doubles match.
“We always want to see who we might play and who’s out there,” Goedde said.
Elyria found some success at the weekend event after switching up its doubles teams. The Pioneers began the season with Jackie Penfound and Kara Gibbs as the first doubles team and Sarah Toby and Bethany Lescher at second doubles. But Toby and Penfound competed in the first doubles bracket, while Gibbs and Lescher won a pair of matches to finish fifth.
“All four of those girls are pretty new to varsity tennis,” Pioneers coach Matt Brinda said. “It takes awhile to get a good read on a new doubles partner. So we’ve been trying to find a winning combination.”
• Admiral King had to forfeit their first singles points when Jillian Van Wagnen fell ill and there was nobody else available to fill in.
“Most of my players are in the band,” Admirals coach Airyn Mealey. “The band was in Berea on Friday night for the football game. We already had to have the kids that were competing in the tournament sign forms saying they’d drive themselves to the game afterward.
“It was too much of a hassle, so I couldn’t get anyone to replace her.”
Mealey was also forced to play one of her first doubles players at No. 2 singles, and drop her No. 2 singles down to the No. 3 bracket — a move that paid off when Stephanie Schoewe took fourth at third singles.
“She’s a hustler, very consistent,” Mealey said.
• Avon had its most successful showing at the LCAAA tournament, earning five seeds for the first time in program history and finishing third as a team with three third-place individual performances and a pair of fourth places.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Molly Clayton, Avon Lake
POSITION: First/second doubles
THIS WEEK’S PERFORMANCE: Clayton and Began defeated top-seeded Elyria Catholic to capture the first doubles championship at the Lorain County Athletic Administrators Association tournament at Avon Lake last weekend. The Shoregals, who were the No. 2 seed, only dropped three games in getting to the final, then beat the Panthers in straight sets for the title.
BIO: Clayton played volleyball for four years on a Junior Olympics traveling team before taking on tennis for Avon Lake. She plans on joining the school’s yearbook committee this year, and in her spare time she enjoys going to the movies, riding bikes or just hanging out at home with her friends.
PARENTS: Steve and Carla Clayton.
Katie Began, Avon Lake
POSITION: First/second doubles
BIO: Began says she’s a huge Indians fan and Grady Sizemore is her favorite player. She also plays softball, although she’s undecided if she’ll play for the Shoregals, and is a cheerleader. She plans on running for class treasurer, and being a member of the key club and yearbook committee.
PARENTS: Steve and Susan Began.
Contact Shaun Bennett at 329-7137 or email@example.com.