Best friends will make their best run at a Division I girls doubles title beginning tomorrow at the state tennis tournament in Columbus.
Notre Dame seniors Tara Majdalani and Meredith Morse, the Eagles' No. 1 and No. 2 singles players during the season, have teamed up for the third straight year to advance to the state tournament at the Stickney Tennis Center at Ohio State University.
Majdalani was 16-4 and the City League runner-up this season at No. 1, while Morse was 20-0 with a CL title at No. 2.
But their mission now is in doubles, something they worked on during the summer through seven amateur tournaments, plus weekly lessons.
Introduced by their respective parents, who were friends through Belmont Country Club, the friendship began when the girls attended preschool at the Children's Discovery Center in Perrysburg. It continued through eight years at St. Rose Elementary, and through their high school years at Notre Dame.
In 2005, Majdalani and Morse placed third in the state after having upset the defending champions. Last year they also beat the defending state champs in the opening round, only to lose in the quarterfinals.
"It's been awesome for us," Majdalani said. "It's especially cool this year because we're seniors. This is our last shot and we want to make it count.
"We have always practiced together since were about 4 or 5 years old. We didn't really start playing doubles
together until a few years ago."
Why do they make a good team?
"First of all, we have good chemistry because we're friends," Majdalani said. "We never get mad at each other, and we have complementary games. Meredith is more of a power player and I'm more consistent."
"All season it's been our goal to get back there," Morse said of the state doubles tournament. "Since the end of last year we wanted to qualify again. We spent the summer practicing and playing. If we play hard we have a chance. Hopefully, it's a good draw."
To advance this year, the Eagles duo won the D-I district title with a 6-1,
6-2 victory over the Perrysburg team of seniors Mallory Messenger and Jaclyn Metzger, who were 13-2 and 14-3, respectively, as No. 2 and No. 3 singles players for the Yellow Jackets this
Majdalani and Morse will face Mason sophomores Sso-Rha Kang and Lindsay Shaefer in the first round of the 16-team bracket. Messenger and Metzger, who also advanced to state, will take on senior Emily Buerschen and junior Samantha Zimmerman of Dayton Chaminade-Julienne in first-round play in the single-elimination event.
Metzger's junior sister, Julia, this area's top singles player and district champion, will put her 24-0 record to the test in her first trip to state. Her first test will come against Chillicothe senior Natalie Slocik, a fourth-place finisher from the Southwest district.
Julia Metzger spent her sophomore year in Texas at the John Newcombe Tennis Academy. She played at Perrysburg as a freshman, but did not advance to state after losing to eventual repeat state champion Neela Vaez of Notre Dame in the district semifinals.
If Metzger advances, her biggest challenge en route to the title would likely come in the semifinals from defending champion Kate Turvy, a junior from Dublin Coffman.
Also in the 16-player state singles bracket is district runner-up Maddy Eccleston of St. Ursula, who lost 6-3, 6-3 to Metzger in the district final. Eccleston, the City League's No. 1 singles champion, will face sophomore Kim My Li of Columbus DeSales in the first round.
In Division II doubles, two teams from Port Clinton will compete. Senior Mari Monaco and freshman Samantha Griffin will face a team from Columbus Bexley, and Redskins' Chelsea Beck and Aubrey Gillman take on a duo from Gahanna Columbus Academy.
The first two rounds of singles and doubles play in both divisions will be held tomorrow, with the semifinals and finals on Saturday.