All season long West Holmes’ girls tennis coach Jason Otto has had one thing in mind for tournament play while letting the season play out in a completely different fashion.
Taylor Miller has served as Otto’s first singles player much of the season, but Otto always had a different path for her in the back of his mind, and with sectionals looming, he is now working his first singles player into a doubles player.
“I told Taylor after our first match this season that I was going to play her at doubles some this season because that will be our best shot at getting a team to districts,” Otto said of his number-one player.
She was more than ready to do just that, and Otto began experimenting throughout the season, teaming her up with senior Hailey Wade and sophomore Maggie Taylor, and he settled on teaming her with Taylor for the Div. II sectional tournament in Dover Oct. 1-2.
While West Holmes’ record is just under .500 for the season and Miller’s single record doesn’t sparkle, though she has played some amazing talent at the number-one singles spot, there are reasons to be excited about the possibilities at sectionals.
First and foremost Miller tackling some of the top players in the area has definitely prepared her for what is to come in doubles play. Otto has given her ample opportunity to play some doubles this season, which is a plus, but he said the rigors of the Ohio Cardinal Conference are one of the biggest reasons Taylor and Miller were awarded the number-two seed in doubles play at sectionals.
Otto said playing a strong team from Our Lady of the Elms and then battling through the OCC tournament just several days prior to sectionals will help his team adequately prepare for sectional play.
“Overall from year to year we have seen great competition in the OCC that has helped us prepare for tournament play because annually the OCC is really good,” Otto said. “I think once we get through our OCC schedule, and especially playing in the OCC tournament two days before the sectional, is a huge advantage for us. We might finish fourth or fifth in the OCC, then go out and win a sectional title. That is how good the OCC has been over the years.”
Karley Halloran will team with third singles player Monica Nally, who has experienced a strong year at third singles to make up the second doubles tandem for the Lady Knights.
With the switches, Taylor Brooks, Natalie Strouse and Wade will venture into the singles pool, where they hope to work their way into the final four, where they can battle for a chance to move on to capture one of the two district spots.
While teams want to get in as much tennis as possible heading into tournament play, the weather has been anything but cooperative as of late, dumping a ton of rain on the courts, which has not allowed the Lady Knights to play for the past week.
“This has been the absolute worst season weather-wise that I can remember,” Otto said. “It’s going to be impossible for us to reschedule a couple of the matches we have had canceled, but everyone has been dealing with it.”
So it is ready or not for the Lady Knights, who hope a rugged regular season schedule has them more than ready to make their mark in sectionals.