COLUMBUS — Cloverleaf freshman singles player Emily Dunbar almost went where only two Medina County girls tennis players have gone.
The 14-year-old won her first match Friday at the Division I state tournament at the OSU Outdoor Varsity Tennis Courts, but lost in the quarterfinals to finish the season with a 28-3 record.
That means the only female county players to reach the semifinals remain Medina’s Beth Schaefer and Jane Schaefer. Beth finished third in singles in 1989 and teamed with older sister Jane to place third in doubles in 1987.
“I’m all right,” Dunbar said. “I’m a little upset, but I’m all right.
“I enjoyed the season. It was nice to play for my school and support it. I hope I can support it next year also.”
Dunbar, who was second at the Medina Sectional and Oberlin District, opened with an impressive 6-2, 6-0 victory over Mason’s Elizabeth Kong, a freshman who was third at the Mason District.
“I was consistent and moved the ball around,” Dunbar said. “I went for some things and took advantage of my chances.”
An intelligent and patient player, the 14-year-old Dunbar played to her strengths, while the aggressive Kong started to make more errors as the match progressed.
“That girl started out really hitting the ball and not making too many errors, so I thought, ‘Oh, boy, this is going to be tough,’” Cloverleaf coach Brenda Hewit said. “Then Emily settled in and played really smart.”
In the quarterfinals, Dunbar fell 6-4, 6-3 to Columbus Bishop Watterson senior Lauren Ghidotti, who won the Hilliard Davidson District.
“I played pretty well, but she played very well,” Dunbar said. “She was very consistent and went for things. She’s a good player.”
With the second set tied 1-1, Ghidotti held serve in a grueling third game that took approximately 15 minutes, then seemed to pick up steam from that point.
“She was right there in it,” Hewit said. “They went back and forth and she was playing well, but it seemed like the wind went out of her sails when she lost that third game. That (Ghidotti) girl just got stronger and stronger, but Emily played well.”
Dunbar, the Suburban League champion at first singles and winner of 21 matches without losing a game, earned second-team All-Ohio honors for reaching the quarterfinals.
“She had a great season,” Hewit said. “This was a great experience for her.”
Better still for the 5-foot-4, 110-pound Dunbar, she has three more high school seasons remaining.
“I’m looking forward to having another chance,” she said. “Next year, I’ll try to do a little better.”
Dunbar was no stranger to the state tournament, as she attended the boys event on six occasions to watch older brothers Ethan, who was fourth in 2010, and Jacob, who won the singles crown in 2013. The Cloverleaf graduates are now playing at the University of Richmond.
Dunbar’s mother, Vicki (Nelson) Dunbar, won three straight championships while at Wooster before finishing third as a senior in 1980. She went on to have a successful pro career.
Semifinal, final and third-place matches at the state tournament will take place today beginning at 9 a.m., but the venue will switch to Hilliard Davidson High School. In the event of rain, the Elysium Tennis Center in Plain City will be used. Tickets are $8.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or email@example.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @RickNoland.
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