Friday, Aug 26, 2016
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3 Notre Dame girls advance

COLUMBUS One of them had everything to lose, the other two had nothing to lose.

But none of the Eagles lost.

Notre Dame s Neela Vaez, Tara Majdalani and Meredith Morse all advanced to the Division I semifinals by notching a pair of wins yesterday at the 30th annual state girls tennis tournament at Ohio State University s Stickney Tennis Center.

Vaez is the defending Division I singles champion, while first-time qualifiers Majdalani and Morse bumped off the defending state doubles champions in the quarterfinals.

I had some people telling me, even before the tournament started, that they would come out and watch me on Saturday, and that made me worry because nothing is guaranteed here, Vaez said. And it seems like everyone wants to see an upset.

The Perrysburg doubles team of Lindsay Shaeffer and Mallory Messenger lost in the first round, however, 6-3, 6-4 to Mason s Emily Pham and Ashley McCall.

In Division II, Maumee Valley Country Day senior Anita Dewan fell in the opening round of singles play to Cincinnati Summit Country Day freshman Gabby Steele, 6-0, 6-0. Steele breezed through the quarterfinals, 6-0, 6-1, to advance to the semifinals.

Dewan s teammates also ended their state journey in the first round as the doubles team of Jennifer Pesin and Sonya Naganathan fell to Blair Williams and Hilliary Landon of Columbus School for Girls, 6-1, 6-2.

Vaez beat Upper Arlington junior Sydnee Bridger decisively, 7-5, 6-1, in a frigid first-round match to advance to the quarterfinals. The Eagles senior, however, struggled early and often against Avon Lake s Christine Chiricosta as she trailed 2-6 in the first-set tiebreaker.

I decided I needed to change my game strategy, Vaez said. I focused on keeping the ball in play longer and waiting for my opportunities.

She capitalized on those opportunities to take the first set 7-6 (8-6) but couldn t maintain the momentum as Chiricosta jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the second set.

I don t like to be behind; it is so nerve-wracking, Vaez said. And it s worse when you think people are excited that you re losing.

She battled back, winning five straight games to take the set and the match 7-6, 7-5.

While Vaez fought off an upset attempt, her teammates staged their own upset a few courts away. Majdalani and Morse, who play second and third singles, respectively, for the Eagles topped defending state champions Renee Lesnett and Rachel McGowan of Canfield 6-4, 6-1 in the doubles quarterfinals. The Eagles duo won their first-round match 6-3, 6-2 over Princeton s Hannah Jackson and Ashley Hale.

There was no pressure on us at all, Majdalani said. And I don t think they [the defending champs] were expecting us to play the way we did.

Canfield s duo took the first game, but the Eagles tore through the next five to go up 5-1 in the first set. Lesnett and McGowan answered, closing the gap to 5-4 before Majdalani and Morse clinched the set.

I think we got tentative after we got such a big lead, Morse said. But, in the end, the pressure was on them to win.

The Eagles duo didn t make the same mistake twice, dominating the second set 6-1.

I think we really took them by surprise, Morse said.

Majdalani and Morse will play Chillicothe s Natalie Skocik and Madison Wright-Piekarski in the semifinals today while Vaez will play Dublin Jerome freshman Kate Turvy. Play begins at 9 a.m.

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