GRANVILLE – The first Licking County Girls Tournament was played Saturday at Denison, and Granville coach Keith Mullins hopes it becomes an annual event.
Players from the host Blue Aces, Watkins Memorial and Newark filled the college’s 12 courts. There were three singles flights and five doubles flights, with 10-game pro sets played during round robin action. Singles and doubles played two matches each against the other schools, and there also was exhibition play in singles and doubles. In all, 54 girls participated.
“With the re-vamping of the league last year, we had no league tournament,” Mullins said. “The Watkins coach (Shawn Walter) approached myself and (Newark coach) Rob Hays about doing this, and we’ve exchanged emails since last season.
“It’s early in the season, which is great. The idea is to get as many girls playing as many matches as possible. Denison was gracious enough to let us have it there and with 12 courts, it makes for an efficient tournament.”
“Not only can more people play, but they get to play on college courts,” Hays said. “We’re going to another tournament at Kenyon with Watkins later in the season.”
Granville won the event with 15 points, winning all but No. 1 singles. Watkins Memorial, which got the No. 1 singles title from freshman Alexis Steer, had eight points and Newark had one. Steer won her two singles matches by a combined 20-4.
Among those winning titles for the Blue Aces were Lindsay White (No. 2 singles), Jessica Shallenberger (No. 3 singles), Sarah Charlton and Abbey Wells (No. 1 doubles) and Sarah Demeter and Sarah Gabel (No. 2 doubles). Charlotte Purnode was runner-up at No. 1 singles.
“We have a large group of juniors who will move around between third singles and doubles,” Mullins said. “There no big dropoff after our second and third spots.”
Among those taking second place for the Warriors were Kendall Whisman (No. 2 singles), Laura Boster (No. 3 singles) and Anna Shroyer and Libby Hatton (No. 2 doubles).
Hays took a young team to the event. The only senior is No. 2 singles player Katianna Evans. Juniors Lydia King and Maddy Stotts play Nos. 1 and 3 singles, respectively. Sophomores Nicole Gilliam and Katie Huang make up the No. 1 doubles team, and junior Madison Michael and sophomore Becca King play No. 2 doubles.
Gilliam and Huang scored the Wildcats’ point with a win against Watkins Memorial.
“We graduated our top four, so this a little rebuilding year,” Hays said. “The sophomores are pretty raw, but they have some talent and the whole team is willing to work hard. It’s a good group to work with.”
Doubles players have become singles players.
“Lydia and Katianna are pretty even. They’re baseliners and pretty consistent, but they played varsity doubles last year,” Hays said. “Stotts played second doubles last year.
“Every week, every match, we try to do better. Both Granville and Watkins are a step ahead of us at this point, but we want to be a little more competitive. We’ll have most of the team back next year.”
The Blue Aces are looking to build on a 13-2 finish in 2013 and has beefed up the schedule. Granville plays Lancaster, Gahanna, DeSales, Reynoldsburg and Mount Vernon, along with Bexley, Worthington Christian, Wellington and Columbus Academy.