Jillian Milano wanted to make it to state – but the freshman also made history Thursday.
Milano, 14, became the first Carroll girls tennis player to qualify to state since 1992 — seven years before she was born. Milano blanked both of her Division II district opponents Thursday with 6-0, 6-0 wins over Abby Wissman of Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, in the opening round and Northeastern’s Kaleigh Cummins in the quarterfinals at the Lindner Family Tennis Center.
Milano’s strategy was simple.
“It’s not just about taking one match at a time, it’s about taking it one ball at a time,” she said. “And you have to have confidence and believe in yourself.”
Milano will face Cincinnati Country Day junior Danielle Wolf in the DII semifinals Saturday. There are some familiar faces in the D-II singles final four as Chaminade Julienne sophomore Natalie Allen and Miami Valley School senior Rheanna Morehart both posted quarterfinal wins Thursday. Both are returning state qualifiers.
Allen is going the solo route this year after placing third a year ago in doubles with then-senior Brooke Sandridge. She dropped two games total in two matches Thursday.
“It’s a little different, not having anyone on the court to talk to,” Allen said. “But I will be more accustomed to the environment at state, so that will help.”
The Eagles sophomore is looking forward to the traditional “Walk to State” next week at CJ.
“It’s when a person or team that qualifies to state walks down the halls at school at the end of the day, before they go to the tournament, and everyone cheers for them,” she said. “It’s fun.”
Being a creature of habit has paid off for Morehart as the Rams senior will return to state after bowing out in the first round last year. From wearing the same hairband and black Nike socks to always having her hair in a bun, Morehart has a consistent routine.
“I’m so super superstitious,” she said, smiling.
Morehart will play Allen in the semifinals Saturday — an important match as seedings are crucial at state. Morehart knows that better than some as she snagged the final qualifying spot (fourth) last year.
“I can’t do worse than that this time,” she said.
Teamwork: Alter’s Lauren Hawley and Amanda Showalter and Oakwood’s Megan Connelly and Annika Aebker all earned state berths in D-II doubles.
Semifinals for both DI and DII get underway Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Lindner Tennis Center.