MEDINA — The best high school girls tennis player in Medina County is now part of the best prep team in Medina County.
That became official when two-time Gazette MVP Ali Garrity and the Medina Bees defeated Highland 3-2 Thursday in non-league action, giving coach Pete Hoffmann’s squad the mythical county championship.
Medina (8-8) came in with victories over Wadsworth (4-1) and Brunswick (5-0), while the Hornets (13-5) had beaten the Grizzlies (4-1), Blue Devils (4-1) and Cloverleaf (5-0).
“It’s nice,” Hoffmann said. “We do all our summer stuff with Highland, so it’s like a sister thing. We always cheer for each other at tournaments.
“It’s kind of like a sibling rivalry. When you play your brother in basketball in the driveway, you want to kick his butt.”
Garrity won the featured match of the day at first singles, defeating two-time All-Gazette choice Nicole Hadler 6-3, 6-4 in a battle of juniors. The Medina left-hander, now 17-1 with a 16-match winning streak, raced to a 5-0 lead in the first set and seemed to be cruising, but the speedy Hadler started chasing down balls and extending points to make the match interesting.
“It’s winning ugly. That’s the best way to describe it,” said Garrity, who will be seeded second among singles players when the Medina Division I Sectional begins this morning, though she beat the Nos. 1 and 3 seeds in dual matches earlier in the week. “I started focusing on getting it in, but that’s not my game. That’s her game.”
With Highland’s Ashley Lengel posting a 6-0, 6-1 win over Erin Rerko at second singles and freshman teammate Allie Welch, the Suburban League champ at third singles, rallying to defeat a game Brooke Ott 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 at the No. 3 spot, the match came down to the doubles courts.
Medina won both, as Brooke Kaylor and Alyssa Schmitt defeated SL champions Taylor Supeck and Claire Watts 6-4, 6-2 at the first position and seniors Kelsey Bingham and Kate Nickley downing Kate Harris and Cassidy Krivos 7-5, 6-4 at the No. 2 spot.
“We’ve been in kind of a slump,” said Nickley, who was celebrating her 18th birthday. “It’s good to get out of it right before sectionals. We’re hoping the momentum carries over.”
Medina competes in the rugged Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division and has lost a number of matches 3-2, with Bingham and Nickley coming up short in several of them. Against Highland, however, they got the job done.
“We were finally able to close it out,” Bingham said. “It’s a good thing.”
It was not a good day for the Hornets, who had a much tougher time than expected at third singles and came up short at first doubles, a point they were counting on.
“I always like to win, so of course I’m disappointed,” Highland coach Lisa Reynolds said. “I thought we looked kind of flat. At first doubles, we looked tentative. Normally, we’re able to shake that.”
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.