August 23, 2014

Elyria
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Girls tennis: Avon weathers changes in venue, format to win third straight LCAAA title

AMHERST — While Mother Nature threw the 24th Annual Lorain County Athletic Administrators Association girls tennis tournament for a loop with all manner of changes, there was still something familiar about the event.

An Avon win.

The Eagles won four of the five individual championships and held off Avon Lake 39-35 to pick up its third straight LCAAA title.

“It feels good to win again,” first-year Avon coach Caroline Hughes said. “I’ve known these girls for a long time through (North Ridge Racquet) Club, and it’s nice to come into an established team that has good players with good hearts.

“I had a feeling that we would be able to win again. Next year, we’re only going to lose two (players), so hopefully we can come back and do it again.”

While thunderstorms wiped out Friday’s action, early morning rain Saturday forced the tournament to move indoors at FoxCreek Racquet Club in Lorain.

But with court space limited and the sun drying the courts, the decision was made to move the singles semifinals and finals to Amherst High School and to play all the matches in eight-game pro sets.

The Eagles were the only team to advance all five of their players to the finals. Only the stellar play of Avon Lake junior Erin Hrivnak at first singles prevented a clean sweep for Avon.

Hrivnak, who finished second the last two years to Avon’s Carmela Mostardi, didn’t let this chance slip away, beating Midview’s Rachel Pickering 8-0 at FoxCreek before defeating Avon’s Madisyn Rini 8-2 at Amherst in the finals.

“It’s nice to come back here every year to compete, but it’s even better to win,” said Hrivnak, who improved to 13-0 on the season. “Carmela was a good friend of mine, and I miss her being here. But it’s nice to have the title this year.

“As a power player, I prefer playing indoors. But going back outside, you’ve just got to spin (the ball) more and bring your targets in. You’ve just got to work with the elements.”

Hrivnak is the first Avon Lake champion at first singles since her coach Christine (Chiricosta) Dieken and Dieken’s sister, Nikki, won it every year from 2003-09.

“My girls really impressed me today, especially Erin taking first singles,” Dieken said. “That’s the best trophy you can win in this tournament. She has improved so much since last year, especially mentally. She’s a great leader on our team.”

Avon’s parade of champions began at FoxCreek, when Annie DeLuca and Maddy Nakon and Melissa Cirilo and Riley Monroe claimed the doubles championships.

DeLuca and Cirilo teamed up for the second doubles title last season. They were able to add more hardware with a pair of first-year varsity players as partners.

DeLuca and Nakon defeated Avon Lake’s Jamie Carpenter and Rachel Johnson 8-1 in the first doubles title match.

“With pro sets, if you get down, you don’t have a lot of time to come back, so it was important for us to get off to good starts,” said DeLuca, a junior. “Playing indoors wasn’t that much of an adjustment, since we do a lot of drilling indoors during the winter. It actually may have helped us.”

Cirilo and Monroe defeated Avon Lake’s Maya Wanner and Taylor Thomas 8-3 for the second doubles title.

Avon senior Abby Schwartz claimed her second straight LCAAA title at second singles, downing Amherst’s Sarah Souders 8-0 in the finals.

Souders was the lone semifinalist not from Avon or Avon Lake.

“I just kept my confidence up and tried to hit the ball strong,” Schwartz said. “There wasn’t really any pressure (to repeat). I was just excited to get a second chance to do it again.”

Junior Halie Mentler, battling a cold, won her third straight LCAAA title, but first as a singles player, with an 8-5 win over Avon Lake’s Briana Makadia.

“It was pretty hard,” Mentler said. “Whenever I move, my throat just feels like glass, and it’s hard to catch your breath. It was pretty hard, but I just tried to stay consistent and not hit it as hard so that I made sure I’d get it over the net.

“I do not like long points, and we had several of those (in the title match), so it was very frustrating. I do not like lobbing the ball. I like hitting it hard, and that’s usually how I play. But because of how I’m feeling, I really couldn’t do that. I just had to deal with it.”

Amherst and Elyria finished tied for third with 25 points. The Pioneers were bolstered by three third-place performers — Angela Rodriguez (first singles), Courtney Green (third singles) and the team of Kari Wonder and Taylor Peyton (first doubles).

Elyria Catholic chose not to compete in this year’s tournament, while Lake Ridge only entered three divisions, but had to drop out of two of them Saturday and finished last in the eight-team field.

Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or dangilles73@gmail.com.

TEAM STANDINGS: 1. Avon 39, 2. Avon Lake 35, 3. (tie) Amherst and Elyria 25, 5. Midview 23, 6. North Ridgeville 22, 7. Vermilion 21, 8. Lake Ridge Academy 20.

SINGLES

FIRST: Championship — Erin Hrivnak (Avon Lake) def. Madisyn Rini (Avon), 8-2. Third-Place — Angela Rodriguez (Elyria) def. Rachel Pickering (Midview), 8-2. Semifinals — Hrivnak def. Pickering, 8-0; Rini def. Rodriguez, 8-1. First Round — Hrivnak def. Sara Al-Haddad (Lake Ridge) by default; Pickering def. Kristen Anglin (Vermilion), 8-1; Rodriguez def. Jordan Reitknecht (North Ridgeville), 8-3; Rini def. Natalie Keron (Amherst), 8-1.

SECOND: Championship: Abby Schwartz (Avon) def. Sarah Souders (Amherst), 8-0. Third-Place — Alexis Krieg (Avon Lake) def. Hannah Sedlak (Midview), 8-0. Semifinals — Schwartz def. Krieg, 8-1; Souders def. Sedlak, 8-0. First Round — Schwartz def. Sachi Gosin (Lake Ridge),
8-0; Krieg def. Tayler Wishner (North Ridgeville), 8-1; Sedlak def. Monica Eppinger (Vermilion), 8-0; Souders def. Amelia Williams (Elyria), 8-5.

THIRD: Championship — Hallie Mentler (Avon) def. Briana Makadia (Avon Lake),
8-3. Third-Place — Courtney Green (Elyria) def. Macy Szucs (Amherst), 8-4. Semifinals — Mentler def. Green, 8-1; Makadia def. Szucs, 8-3. First Round — Green def. Monique Michalski (North Ridgeville), 8-4; Szucs def. Theresa Van Keuren (Midview), 8-2; Makadia def. Savannah Ragnoni (Vermilion), 8-0.

DOUBLES

FIRST: Championship — Annie DeLuca-Maddy Nakon (Avon) def. Jamie Carpenter-Rachel Johnson (Avon Lake),
8-1; Third-Place — Kari Wonder-Taylor Peyton (Elyria) def. Elizabeth Buchanan-Julie Mello (Vermilion), 8-2. Semifinals — DeLuca-Nakon def. Buchanan-Mello, 8-0; Carpenter-Johnson def. Wonder-Peyton, 8-1. First Round — Buchanan-Mello def. Lauren Marflake-Megan O’Neill (North Ridgeville), 8-7 (2); Wonder-Peyton def. Payal Patel-Danielle Smith (Midview), 8-4; Carpenter-Johnson def. Katie Hatcher-Taylor Soto (Lake Ridge) by default.

SECOND: Championship — Melissa Cirilo-Riley Monroe (Avon) def. Maya Wanner-Taylor Thomas (Avon Lake), 8-3. Third-Place — Carol Yun-Tabby McClosky (North Ridgeville) def. Naomi Diederick-Maria Rodriguez (Elyria), 8-5. Semifinals — Cirilo-Monroe def. Yun-McClosky, 8-0; Wanner-Thomas def. Diederick-Rodriguez, 8-0. First Round — Yun-McClosky def. Jocelyne Koerner-Riley Hall, 8-6’ Diederick-Rodriguez def. Cassidy Hogue-Machella McClanahan (Midview), 8-3.