SYCAMORE TWP. – In matching green sweatsuits, the Sycamore High School girls tennis team spent the weekend of Oct. 16-18 across from Kings Island, then east of Columbus, in Reynoldsburg. Along the way, they traded their tennis sticks for bread sticks at the Olive Garden in Lancaster.
Though not the most exotic of field trips, this was a business trip for Greater Miami Conference Coach of the Year Mike Teets and the Lady Aves.
The goal? More trophies.
This fall’s finale began at the Lindner Family Tennis Center with senior Alexa Abele representing Sycamore in singles and senior Maggie Skwara and freshman Helen Sotropa making a Division I state appearance in doubles.
Skwara and Sotropa’s exited after a first-round loss, but the rest of the Lady Aves stayed to cheer on Abele, who defeated opponents from Rocky River Magnificat and Dublin Jerome to move to the next day.
On Oct. 17, Abele beat Mount Notre Dame’s Kelli Niehaus, before joining the Sycamore green girls for a picnic lunch in between the vast array of courts. The Lady Aves then huddled to watch Abele and GMC foe Emily Thomas of Princeton in the final.
Thomas won the match, but that wasn’t the end of Sycamore’s weekend. After dusting off his troops, Teets steered Abele and the Lady Aves toward Reynoldsburg, home of the Ohio Coaches Tennis Association team semifinals and finals.
For those who didn’t make the state tourney, it was one more day for a season that began in August.
“There’s that sense of excitement throughout the whole season,” Teets said. “When you make it to the final four you maintain that excitement.”
Sycamore began the morning of Oct. 18 with a win over Toledo Notre Dame, which put them in the championship against Dublin Jerome. Though Abele was in a second set tiebreaker and third singles was in a third set, the Lady Aves fell in second singles and in both doubles matches.
“It was a good competitive match, but they were just a little bit stronger,” Teets said. “We tried to load up in doubles, but they were just too strong.”
Teets had senior Maggie Skwara team with freshman Sarah Wittenbaum in first doubles and moved sophomore Kaitlyn Chiang to second singles. Senior Brianna Dooley, normally a doubles player, played third singles.
“She did an outstanding job,” Teets said of Dooley. “She was in a third set. We were thrilled with her effort.”
Though it was long, it was a fun weekend for the Lady Aves to reach the highest levels of tennis after talking about it all offseason.
“You’re disappointed when you don’t win the final match, but I think they all know they achieved more than a lot of people might have suspected,” Teets said.
Sycamore’s starting seven all finished second team GMC with three reaching the state level individually in addition to the team tournament. Teets must now replace departing seniors Abele, Caroline Gao, Dooley, Raquel Levitt and Amanda Peck.
“We’ll do the best we can, but when you lose that many seniors, that’s a tough assignment,” Teets said. “We’ll start working right away to work toward next year.”