Admission: $6 per day
Seniors Jillian Milano and Kelly Pleiman were all business on the first day of competition at the girls district tennis tournament.
The first singles players from Carroll and Chaminade Julienne, respectively, breezed through the first two rounds without dropping a game at the Lindner Family ATP Tennis Center on Thursday. The friendly Greater Catholic League rivals earned repeat trips to the state tournament with their Division II quarterfinal wins.
“It’s my last year, so it’s really sentimental,” Milano said. “But it’s also really motivating.”
Second-seeded Milano blanked Megan Wu of Madeira 6-0, 6-0 in the opening round and did the same against Summit Country Day’s Kathryn Adam in the quarterfinals. Hard work paid off for the four-time state qualifier.
“I’ll go out late at night and train or hit with my dad,” she said. “I’m feeling great right now.”
Pleiman had an equally dominating day, beating Kenton Ridge senior Cassandra Freshour 6-0, 6-0 in the first round and blanking Madison junior Maddie Porter 6-0, 6-0 in the quarterfinals.
The state-qualifying match, however, wasn’t as easy as the score might indicate for the Eagles senior.
“Mentally, it’s tough because you know it’s the one you have to win,” Pleiman said. “The pressure is definitely there.”
Pleiman will make her third state appearance in as many years.
The goal for Saturday is clear — secure a No. 1 seed.
“It’s really important to be the top seed at state,” Pleiman said.
Last year, the D-II district title came down to Milano and Pleiman with Milano getting the hard-fought win. One year earlier, it was the same match-up but Pleiman posted the win.
“We definitely know how each other plays,” Milano said. “There aren’t many surprises.”
A Milano-Pleiman district final is a possibility again this year but both have other opponents to face first. Milano will play Indian Hill’s Saskia Gobonya in the semifinals while Pleiman will play Gobonya’s teammate Morgan Coburn in the other D-II singles semifinal Saturday.
“Hopefully, I’ll see her in the final,” Pleiman said of Milano.
Milano would also enjoy a rematch after Pleiman topped her in the sectional final last week. But with a full ride to Wright State to play tennis and a fourth state tournament appearance secured, Milano can breathe a little easier.
“I think there’s definitely less pressure on me now,” she said. “I just want to stay loose, have fun and try my best.”
Making history: While Northridge junior Thaomy Tran bowed out in the first round to eventual state qualifier Saskia Gobonya, she made history before she ever stepped onto the court. The Polar Bears first singles player is the first Northridge girls tennis player to qualify to the district tournament.
Moving on: Defending D-I singles state champion Emily Thomas, a junior from Cincinnati Princeton, and fourth-place finisher Kelli Niehaus secured state berths. Thomas topped Milford's Amanda Reinhart 6-2, 6-1 in the quarterfinals while Niehaus topped Miamisburg's Carley Sickinger 6-1, 6-3.