This is Anke (left) and Reka (right) Patel, the D-I top-seeded sectional doubles team from Springboro. They advanced to the district tournament today. Debbie Juniewicz/CONTRIBUTED

High School Tennis: Sibling partnership pays off

They are sisters, teammates and partners and would like to add sectional champions to the list.

Springboro siblings Anke and Reka Patel moved one step closer to that goal Friday with a pair of straight-set wins in the girls Division I sectional tennis tournament at Centerville High School. The top-seeded Panthers topped Beavercreek’s Remy Stanforth and Katie-Ann Woehl, 6-0, 6-2, in the doubles quarterfinals to secure a district berth.

While Anke made a strong tournament run last year in singles – falling short of state by a single win – and both sisters had a successful season playing singles with only a single loss apiece, they agreed that doubles was the way to go for the postseason.

“We like playing together and I think we’re stronger as a team,” Anke said.

Anke, a junior, has been playing since she was 4 or 5 years old and Reka, a freshman, was soon on the court as well. While they handled first and second singles duties, respectively, for the Panthers all season, they teamed up on a few occasions to hone their doubles skills. And what the duo lacked in shared court time, they make up for in other areas.

“I think, because we’re sisters, we communicate well and that’s so important in doubles,” Anke said. “And we know how to pick each other up when we’re down.”

They bring different elements to the doubles partnership.

“Anke is definitely a good leader,” Reka said. “She’s very consistent and I know I can always count on her.”

Little sister also brings plenty to the partnership.

“Reka is really good under pressure,” Anke said.

While moving on in the tournament is a definite goal, it’s about more than wins and losses for the Springboro siblings.

“It’s been way more fun playing together,” Anke said. “We’re having a really good time.”

•Seeding surprise: When Mikenzie Hindenlang looked at the D-I singles seedings, she was more than a bit surprised.

“My jaw just dropped,” the Miamisburg junior said.

The Vikings No. 1 singles player is the No. 1 sectional seed.

“A lot of the top players are playing doubles in the tournament,” Hindenlang said. “I try not to think about the seedings, I just pretend I’m the underdog and play my game.”

Hindenlang was on her game Friday as she dropped only two games total in three matches and secured a district berth with a 6-1, 6-0 quarterfinal win over Allie Kees, of Wilmington. She will face Beavercreek sophomore Julia Bays in the semifinals Saturday. Bays toppled fourth-seeded Samira Dhaliwal, of Centerville, 6-1, 6-1, to advance.

In other singles semifinal action Saturday, second-seeded Ariel Alappatt, of Centerville, will play third-seeded Ally Garofoli, of Springboro.

Seedings are critical, as Hindenlang can attest to after qualifying to the district as a fourth seed in singles her freshman year and a third seed in doubles last year.

“Being a one next week would definitely be nice,” she said.

Sectional semifinals and finals – for both D-I and D-II, singles and doubles – get underway at 9 a.m. Saturday at Centerville.