Alter doubles team ‘a good partnership’

Different angles, more net play and shared space — doubles tennis is a different game.

But Alter state qualifiers Lauren Hawley and Amanda Showalter are up to the challenge. The Knights’ first and second singles players, respectively, joined forces for a tournament run that resulted in a sectional championship, a second-place district finish and a berth in the OHSAA girls state tournament that gets underway at Ohio State University on Friday.

“They are two very strong players who also very smart players,” Alter coach John Kirk said. “If they had gone the singles route, they both had a shot of making it through the district tournament.”

Hawley, a junior, is laid back, someone who, according to Kirk, “leads quietly.” Showalter, a freshman, is more intense and fiery. It has proven to be a winning combination.

“They really seem to balance each other, which makes for a good partnership,” Kirk said.

The second-seeded Knights will face another No. 2 seed in the opening round of Division II doubles play Friday in Berthy Feng and Ellen Hata, of Shaker Heights Laurel. If Alter advances they could face returning state placers Meili and Minda Martin, Chesapeake, in the quarterfinals.

“Our goal is to make it to the second day,” Showalter said.

Like the Knights, Oakwood singles players Megan Connelly and Annie Lutz decided to play doubles in the tournament. The Jills are fourth seeds heading into the state tournament.

“The pressure is off completely,” Connelly said. “We’ve got nothing to lose.”

Tournament tested: While there are several first-time state qualifiers heading to Columbus this week, a few local players have experience on their side.

Chaminade Julienne sophomore Natalie Allen is going the solo route this year after placing third at state last year in D-II doubles with Brooke Sandridge. Kings senior Amina Ishmail is in the hunt for a D-I singles state title after placing fourth last year.

Miami Valley School senior Rheanna Morehart is making her second trip to the D-II state tournament as is Oakwood’s Megan Connelly.

Record numbers: Of the 50 schools represented at the state tennis tournament, no program will have as many players on the court as Mason. The Comets are sending five players to state with Elizabeth Kong playing singles and the doubles teams of Isabel Cepeda and Amanda Huser and Nina Cepeda and Lynn Kelly. Three other schools have four state qualifiers.

In the D-I ranks, the Mason sectional proved to be unstoppable as all four district qualifiers — singles and doubles — advanced to the state tournament.

“Once you get through the Mason sectional, you know you can play with the best players in the state,” Mason coach Mike Reid said.

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