May 31, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Girls tennis: All great things must come to an end

The undefeated “rain” of Cloverleaf freshman tennis player Emily Dunbar is over, but her season is not.

On a Saturday that featured court and venue changes because of the weather, the top-seeded Dunbar fell 6-4, 6-3 to Walsh Jesuit’s second-seeded Molly Sandberg in the Medina Division I Sectional final.

Emily Dunbar

Medina’s fourth-seeded Emma Deimling, who was down 3-0 in the first set against Dunbar in the semifinals when the Bees freshman had to stop playing due to a back injury, also defaulted her third-place match to Hudson’s third-seeded Kati Mdzinarishvili and finished fourth.

The unseeded Wadsworth doubles team of Katie Doyle and Maria Pace also lost semifinal and third-place matches to finish fourth, but all the Medina County players will advance to the Oberlin College District, which starts Thursday at 9 a.m.

A nationally ranked 14-and-under player by the United States Tennis Association, Dunbar (24-1) won her first game Saturday morning against Deimling at Medina High, but the Bees singles player slipped and a lengthy delayed ensued while tournament officials attempted to dry the court.

The match was eventually moved to another court at Medina, but Deimling was unable to go on after losing two more games.

Dunbar’s championship match against Sandberg also started outdoors, with the Cloverleaf ninth-grader leading 2-1 when rain forced the tournament to move indoors to the Paramount Tennis Club in Granger Township.

Dunbar, who had won 279 of 281 games played this season after her semifinal match with Deimling, captured only two more games in the first set against Sandberg and never recovered in the second.

Still, Dunbar is the first Cloverleaf girls tennis player to reach districts since exchange student Verena Steigerwald in 2001. She needs to finish in the top six in the 16-player singles field at Oberlin to become the Colts’ first female representative at the state tournament.

“She had a few too many unforced errors and there was a lot of waiting around,” Colts coach Brenda Hewit said. “She hadn’t been tested all year, so that’s always a new experience. Better this week than next week.”

Dunbar will play a third-place finisher from another sectional in the win-or-go-home first round at districts, while Deimling, who first hurt her back Friday in a quarterfinal victory over Highland’s Allie Welch, and Wadsworth’s Doyle and Pace will go against sectional champions.

“Every indication is she’s going to be able to play Thursday at districts,” Bees coach Pete Hoffmann said of Deimling. “We’re waiting to see which No. 1 (seed) she is going to play. It’s going to be a tough match, but all matches at districts are tough.”

The Cinderella doubles team of Doyle and Pace dropped a semifinal match 6-0, 6-0 to Walsh’s top-seeded Gina Costanzo and Emily Hissong, then fell 6-1, 6-0 to the Warriors’ unseeded Caroline Dickenson and Paige Carmichael in the third-place match.

Doyle and Pace, who won three matches Tuesday and another Friday, are the first Wadsworth girls to advance to districts since singles players Laura Sandridge and Jill Peterson in 1976.

That year, Sandridge beat Peterson in the district title match to earn Wadsworth’s only state berth. Only one singles player advanced to state at that time.
In the other doubles matches Saturday, Dickenson and Carmichael lost 7-6, 7-5 to Hudson’s second-seeded Connie Chen and Grace Graham in the semifinals. Chen and Graham then fell 6-2, 6-1 to Costanzo and Hissong in the championship.

In the other singles semifinal, Sandberg advanced with a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Mdzinarishvili.

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @RickNoland.

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 Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.