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Undefeated first singles player Rachel Nelson continued to display the form that got her to the top of the Div. II State championship last year, winning easily in two sets in both of her games, meaning she hasn’t lost a set this season. Despite winning with ease, Nelson, who admits she is tough on herself, wasn’t enthralled with her play early on.
“I think Rachel was getting a little frustrated with herself at times in the finals,” said Otto. “I think she was missing some shots she felt she should be hitting.”
Nelson beat Alex Stein of New Philadelphia 6-0, 6-1, then took apart Kristen Dempsey of Tri-Valley 6-2, 6-1 in the finals.
The first doubles team tandem of Chelsea Black and Hannah Frank also continued to roll, winning two games in two sets apiece, meaning that they, too, have not lost a set this season. The victory in the opener was at the expense of Carson Thomas and Kasey Petka of Triway, a 6-0, 6-0 affair. In the finals, the duo easily controlled the match against New Philadelphia’s Lydia Kneuss and Emily Gano, earning a 6-0, 6-1 victory.
“They have wanted to play together and they are showing that it has been a great thing,” said Otto of the duo. “They really haven’t even been challenged yet this year either.”
At second singles, Marki Hogle continued her awesome season, carving up a pair of opponents for easy wins. Hogle won her opening match with a 6-0, 6-0 whitewash of Maddie Miller of New Philadelphia. She then got the best of Triway’s Jennifer Anderson, cruising to another 6-0, 6-0 win. Hogle also crushed Maddie Miller 6-0, 6-0 to reach the finals.
“Marki is good enough to play a lot of other team’s number one singles,” said Otto. “She has improved as much as anyone, and she had improved a ton from her sophomore year to last year, so that shows you how far she has come. She works as hard as anyone out there. She is the kind of court rat that you see out here every day, and it shows on the court.”
“I thought I played pretty well today,” said Hogle. “I feel like I have a lot of confidence right now and that has helped me a lot.”
At third singles, Morgan Wagers had to work the hardest for her trophy. Having to overcome a first set 1-6 loss to Taylor Spurr of Triway in the finals, Wagers put her struggles behind her, churning out a 6-4 victory in the second set before grinding out a well-deserved 10-4 win in the tiebreaker third set. The pairs’ match lasted well past anyone else on the court, the two playing a good 45 minutes by their lonesome while everyone else watched. Wagers defeated Elizabeth Arbaugh of Tri-Valley in the opener 6-0, 6-1.
At second doubles, the young sophomore tandem of Savannah Yoder and Stormi Morris continue to improve on a weekly basis. The two varsity newcomers showed a lot of poise in the finals, winning their first set against New Philadelphia’s Sarah Grages and Cheyanne Shook 6-2 and then falling behind in the second 3-0, only to rally and win six straights games to grab a 6-3 victory. They won in the opener with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Triway’s Katie Dunlop and Aubrey Bailey.
At this point in the season, West Holmes has looked quite formidable, but Otto and his team know that tougher opponents lurk in the shadows of the future. Those opponents include a stretch of Orrville, St. Frances DeSales, Clear Fork and Wooster, with Lexington lurking down the road, so they understand that their early success doesn’t mean anything yet.
“We’re going to face some really good competition pretty soon, so we will see what happens,” said Nelson. “We all know we have some quality opponents to play, and we aren’t taking anything for granted.”