Julie Weider took over as coach of the Perrysburg girls tennis team two years ago, but the success hasn't changed.
The Yellow Jackets, who returned most of its key players from a year ago, repeated as Northern Lakes League champions for an eighth consecutive year.
Perrysburg had six players qualify for Division I district competition after a strong showing at last week's sectional.
“Last year was more of a surprise that we won league,” Weider said. “This year it was always our plan to defend our NLL title.”
Top returners — April Weaver, Megan Roberts, and Cammy Messenger — helped the Yellow Jackets roll to a 14-2 overall record, 6-1 in the NLL. “It's been really, really good,” said Roberts, a senior. “I've lost a few, but it's been fun and a pretty strong season for all of us.”
No. 1 singles player Weaver began the week with a 19-4 record.
Weaver's losses have come against Ottawa Hills junior Drew Fillis and Northview freshman standout Megan Miller, who beat Weaver in the NLL and sectional finals. Weaver had won both titles last year.
Weaver reached the Division I state tournament a year ago.
“I'm hoping to make it past the first round at state this year,” Weaver said. “I think I benefited a lot from last year because I didn't know what state was and now I know it's like a tournament draw. They're all hard hitting, so I know what to expect from the players.”
Weider has watched Weaver's game develop into one of the area's best.
“She's kept working harder and harder at her game to the point where she is now,” Weider said. “She doesn't take a million lessons, she just works really hard.
Cammy Messenger, left, the NLL No. 2 singles champion, and Megan Roberts advanced to Division I district in doubles.
“She comes and hits every day with whoever is willing or able to hit with her. She'll hit with adults. She really puts the effort into her game to get better.”
Roberts and senior Maddy Karnitis were also steadying forces. They teamed up for a 14-1 doubles record, with the only loss in the sectional final.
The pair advanced to district in doubles for the second straight year, although Messenger spent most of the regular season playing No. 2 singles, earning an NLL singles title at that spot.
Roberts and Messenger were aiming all season to make a run at tournament time in doubles.
“We're really strong together and we've always been strong together,” Roberts said. “We're going to try and get to state and hopefully go from there.”
Messenger also believes their individual strengths — she's stronger at backhand shots and Roberts is better with her forehand play — make them tough to deal with.
“I think we communicate really well together,” Messenger added. “When one of us is up and the other one is down, we help one another to get up.”
Karnitis also qualified for districts in doubles, playing alongside senior Savannah Northcutt, while junior Paige Zilba advanced in the singles.
Contact Donald Emmons at:firstname.lastname@example.org 419-724-6302.
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