July 25, 2016

Partly cloudy

Garrity needs win today to move on

Rick Noland

The Gazette

OBERLIN — The bad news for Ali Garrity is that even if she gets to the Division I state tennis tournament, she’s going to have a very tough first-round match.

The good news for the Medina senior is that she still has a chance to get to Columbus for the second straight year.

Garrity beat Aurora’s Taylor Miotke 6-2, 6-1 in her first-round match Thursday at the Oberlin District, but dropped a 2-6, 7-6 (7), 7-5 heartbreaker to Magnificat’s Emily Witt in the quarterfinals.

The Highland doubles team of Ashley Lengel and Allie Welch was eliminated in the first round with a 6-0, 6-2 loss to Mayfield’s Mitsuki Fukamachi and Jamie Vizelman.

Garrity must now beat a very familiar opponent, Hudson’s Kati Mdzinarishvili, on Saturday at 9 a.m. in order to grab one of the district’s six qualifying spots in singles.

If the three-time Gazette MVP beats Mdzinarishvili — she is 4-2 against her over the last two seasons — her next match would determine fifth and sixth place, but she would still play a district champion in the first round at state.

Had the 17-year-old senior beaten Witt — Garrity had match point in the second-set tiebreaker and was serving for the match at 5-4 in the third set — she would have been guaranteed of finishing in the top four at Oberlin, which would have meant facing a lower seed in the first round at state.

“Right now, the biggest thing for Ali is to worry about getting there,” Bees coach Pete Hoffmann said. “She needs to play the best match she can play, have fun with it and stay loose. Then we’ll see what happens as far as the state draw goes. Right now, her biggest thing is to concentrate on Saturday at 9 a.m.”

Coming off an impressive performance while winning the Medina Sectional, Garrity cruised past Miotke, who finished fourth at the Solon Sectional.

Garrity also played great while winning the first set in her quarterfinal match, but the speedy Witt, who finished second at the Oberlin Sectional, started running everything down after that.

In addition, Witt’s fantastic lob turned into an offensive weapon in winds that often reached 20 mph.

“Emily was lobbing the ball really well, and that gave Ali a little bit of trouble,” Hoffmann said. “Emily played a really good match. When you get to this level, all the kids can play.”

Now 24-3 on the season, Garrity fell behind 4-1 in the third set, but ran off four straight games to go up 5-4. Witt then broke serve, held serve and broke Garrity again to win the match.

That means Garrity must now beat Mdzinarishvili on Saturday to extend her outstanding prep career.

“Ali’s always been good at separating one match from another,” Hoffmann said. “It should be a really good match with Kati. They definitely know what the other person is bringing to the table.”

Highland’s Lengel and Welch, who finished third at the Medina Sectional, never really had a chance against Fukamachi and Vizelman, who won a match at state last year.

“They’re a good team,” Hornets coach Lisa Reynolds said of the Mayfield pair. “They were state qualifiers, so we knew they were good.

“We started to make a little bit of a run in the second set, but it wasn’t enough. We just didn’t look comfortable and they were just better.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com.

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.