OBERLIN — Thanks to junior Ali Garrity, Medina’s girls tennis program scratched a 13-year itch Saturday.
Garrity became the first Medina singles player since Suzanne Batten in 1998 to qualify for the state tournament by finishing sixth at the Oberlin Division I District.
The left-hander defeated Magnificat’s Lauren O’Malley 6-3, 6-3 in her morning match to clinch the state berth — play was moved inside due to inclement weather — and then fell 6-4, 6-4 to Aurora’s Maddie Gilley in the fifth-place match.
Now 23-5, Garrity will play a district champion in her first-round match at state, but just getting to Columbus was all that mattered Saturday.
“It’s a good feeling,” the 16-year-old said. “I can’t wait to experience the state tournament and compete against the other girls. I’m excited.”
Garrity, who finished third at the Medina Sectional, had a stomach virus Friday that forced her to leave school around 11 a.m., but recovered enough to down O’Malley, a third-place finisher at the Oberlin Sectional.
“I felt sick when I got up (Saturday),” she said. “My first match, I was lucky I got through it the way I did. I had a stomachache and heartburn and she was kind of a pusher, so I was trying to find a way to end the points quicker.
“I was nervous, but as soon as I won the first set, I relaxed more and it was easier.”
Garrity played well in the fifth-place match against Gilley, who won the Solon Sectional, but could not pull out the victory.
“I was a little impatient,” she said. “I didn’t go for the right shots at the right time.”
Still, the two-time Gazette MVP reached her goal of qualifying for the state tournament.
“It’s a great thing for Ali to be able to make it,” seventh-year Medina coach Pete Hoffmann said after getting his first state qualifier. “I know that was her goal this year.
“I’m excited for her. It’s one of those hurdles kids have to make. To do it this year is a great thing for her.”
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.