Youth movement a winner for Butler girls tennis

That the Butler High School girls tennis team qualified five players to the Division I district tournament isn’t a surprise. The Aviators did the same thing last season.

But how they did it, even coach Amanda Paul didn’t see this coming.

Butler graduated all seven varsity players from last season, giving the Aviators a fresh team of first-year varsity players at all three singles positions and both doubles teams.

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“We knew they had good chances. They definitely had to play their best tennis to do what they did,” Paul said. “I thought we’d qualify one or two. Maybe three. But not five.”

Senior Cierra Christner and juniors Priya Petty and Madilynn Hager qualified for district as singles. Junior Isabella Bratton and freshman Seema Pithadia advanced as a doubles team. Christner, Petty and Hager played No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 singles, respectively, during the regular season. Bratton and Pithadia were the Aviators’ No. 1 doubles team.

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The district tournament starts Thursday at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason. The semifinals and finals follow on Saturday.

Christner enters as a No. 2 seed. Petty is a No. 3 seed and Hager and Bratton and Pithadia are No. 4 seeds. Petty had perhaps the toughest route through the sectional bracket having to play Sidney’s No. 2 singles player, Tecumseh’s No. 1 and Piqua’s No. 1.

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The Lindner Family Tennis Center hosts some of the top tennis players in the world with the Western & Southern Open. Some of the state’s top talent will be there Thursday as the Troy sectional merges with players from the Mason, Cincinnati and Centerville sectionals. Two wins are required to qualify for state. That’s a challenging task with Mason, Cincinnati and Centerville considered among the toughest sectionals in the state.

“They are super hard workers. One thing about this team is they don’t have the experience but they play their hearts out every point,” Paul said. “They don’t give up.

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“It was fun to kind of start over and have kids that were super excited to be up there. Some of them had waited three years to play on varsity. They were motivated having watch those kids before them do so well. They wanted to do the same things and have as qualifying for district. … We graduated nine seniors last year and seven were on varsity. It’s a brand new set of kids. We were shocked they were able to do that.”

• Draws for the boys and girls cross country, boys and girls soccer and girls volleyball postseasons were held this past Sunday.

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Beavercreek (D-I, 10-1-3), Tippecanoe (D-II, 14-0-1) and Botkins (D-III, 12-0-2) all were chosen as No. 1 boys soccer sectional seeds. Among girls soccer, Beavercreek (D-I, 15-0-0), Alter (D-II, 13-1-1), Tippecanoe (D-II, 8-3-3) and Lehman Catholic (D-III, 12-1-1) were top seeded.

No. 1 girls volleyball sectional seeds were Centerville (D-I, 16-4), Tippecanoe (D-II, 20-1), Fenwick (D-II, 19-1), Miami East (D-III, 13-7) and Fort Loramie (D-IV, 19-2).

The soccer and volleyball sectionals begin on Monday. District cross country is Saturday, Oct. 19.

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• Boys (Divisions II and III) and girls (D-II) state golf tournaments are Friday and Saturday. Boys D-II will be held at NorthStar Golf Club in Sunbury and boys D-III at the Ohio State Scarlet Course in Columbus. The girls D-II state will be at OSU’s Gray Course.

Oakwood and Alter advanced among boys D-II teams. Fort Loramie, Minster and Botkins will shoot for the boys D-III team title. Alter, St. Henry and Benjamin Logan will contend for the girls D-II state title.

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The boys and girls D-I district golf tournaments are this week. Jordan Gilkison of Springboro (69) was medalist in D-I boys district golf at Glenview Golf Course on Tuesday. Joining him in qualifying to D-I state as boys individuals were runner-up Eric Cherubini of Centerville (70) and Shane Ochs of Carroll (71).

The girls D-I district golf is Thursday at Beavercreek Golf Course.

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