July 1, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Keep an eye on these tennis players, matches

Players to watch

Ali Garrity, Medina: The reigning Gazette MVP went 21-7 overall as a freshman, including 19-6 in singles matches. The left-hander came within one win of reaching the Oberlin Division I District and is a USTA-ranked player who competes in numerous tournaments.

Danielle Hadler, Highland: The senior went 19-8 while playing mainly first singles a year ago and will occupy that spot again this season. Hadler finished fourth at first singles at the Suburban League Tournament last year and teamed with sister Nicole to win two doubles matches at the Oberlin D-I Sectional.

Nicole Hadler, Highland: The younger of the Hadler sisters had the highest winning percentage in the county a year ago, finishing 23-4 as a sophomore while playing mostly No. 2 singles. She placed third at that spot at the SL Tournament. Hadler, who also runs cross country for Highland in the fall, recently had her foot removed from a walking boot after suffering a stress fracture.

Michelle Mullen, Highland: Mullen finished 18-6 while playing mostly third singles as a junior. She placed third at that spot at the SL Tournament. Her twin sister, Breanna, is also expected to be part of Highland’s varsity lineup.

Maggie Thelen, Wadsworth: The junior finished 13-9 a year ago while playing mostly second singles and figures to occupy that spot once again for the Grizzlies. Thelen is a solid athlete who learned the game as last season went along, as evidenced by her 6-2, 6-0 victory over fellow All-Gazette choice Ashley Perry of Medina.

Matches to watch

TBA: Highland at Medina — This match is not yet officially scheduled, but if and when it takes place, it will feature Highland first singles player Danielle Hadler, an All-Gazette choice, against 2009 Gazette MVP Ali Garrity of Medina.

Sept. 1: Revere at Highland — If the Hornets are going to unseat the perennial Suburban League champion Minutemen, winning this match will go a long way toward doing it, as the regular-season standings and postseason tournament each count 50 percent toward determining the overall SL title.

Sept. 14: Highland at Wadsworth— Not only will this match pit Highland’s Hadler against Wadsworth’s Layne Connolly at first singles, it will match two teams gunning to finish near the top of the SL. The second singles match between the Hornets’ Nicole Hadler and Wadsworth’s Maggie Thelen will also feature two All-Gazette choices.

Sept. 18: Suburban League Tournament — Highland’s goal is to be seeded first or second at as many spots as possible, thus likely avoiding Revere players until the finals. If the Hornets can then win a few of those matches, they could be in the running for the tournament and league titles.

Sept. 30: Wadsworth at Medina — This match will pit 2008 Gazette MVP Connolly against 2009 MVP Garrity. A year ago, Garrity won handily, but Connolly is an improved player.

Oct. 5-9: Sectional tournaments — Garrity and Connolly both fell one win short of a district berth a year ago, so they’ll be threats to advance, as will Highland’s Hadler sisters if they combine to play doubles for a second straight year.

Rick Noland About Rick Noland

Rick Noland is the Cavs beat writer for The Gazette and the author of "Over Time," a compilation of stories he's written in more than 30 years as a journalist. He can be reached at 330-721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.