By Josh Brown
TROY — After five Trojan girls tennis players qualified for the district tournament last season, Troy coach Mark Goldner said that it was probably the most girls he’d had go to district in one year.
What’s a good way to follow that up? Doing it again.
Troy’s Hannah Essick, the top-seeded singles player, and both doubles teams, second-seeded Maggie Hennessy and Ashley Bruns and third-seeded Hailey Taylor and Katie Sherrick, all qualified for next week’s district tournament, winning their quarterfinal matches at the Division I sectional tournament held Wednesday at Troy High School and Troy Community Park.
For Essick and the team of Hennessy and Bruns, who played second and third singles the majority of the year and teamed up for the postseason, the goal on Wednesday was simple — lose as few games as possible on their way to Saturday’s semifinals.
“Maggie and Ashley, I don’t think they lost a game today,” Goldner said. “And Hannah hadn’t lost one before her quarterfinal match. They just blew right through their matches today. That was the goal, not to lose a game. It’s something that makes them play, gives you something to play for.”
Essick cruised through her first-round match, defeating Tecumseh’s Morgan Brewer 6-0, 6-0, then she blanked Northmont’s Athaiah Peters 6-0, 6-0 to advance to the quarterfinals. There, she dropped her first game of the day in the second set but still swept her way to a 6-0, 6-1 win over Springfield’s Isabella Gianakopoulos.
Essick, a senior, will play Tecumseh’s Karli Mulkey, who upset Springfield’s third-seeded Jenna Demeter in the other quarterfinal match, in Saturday’s semifinal round. She will be looking for her first sectional title as a singles player after winning it in doubles teamed with Hennessy her freshman and sophomore seasons.
“She wants to win a match at district, so she needs that No. 1 seed,” Goldner said. “Although, last year, she lost in sectional to Northmont’s No. 1, who lost in straight sets at district, and Hannah went three sets in her match and had a chance to win it. So you never know … but you still want the No. 1 seed.”
Fellow seniors Hennessy and Bruns also routed their way to the semifinals, defeating Springfield’s A. Mistry and E. Hasecke 6-0, 6-0 and Stebbins’ Z. Ilyasova and T. Dancer 6-0, 6-0 to advance to the semis and qualify for district.
Sherrick and Taylor had a tougher road to the semifinals, but they qualified just the same.
Troy’s first doubles team during the regular season, the duo swept Northmont’s A. Slusher and W. White 6-2, 6-3 in the first round and drew Springfield’s L. Syed and M. Umerani in the quarters. There, Sherrick and Taylor won the first set easily, dropped a heated second set and then recovered to put the match away convincingly in the third for a 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 victory.
“Those two had a lot of matches like that throughout the year — and I think they’ve won 21 matches now. That’s pretty impressive,” Goldner said. “It was good for them to qualify, and it was good for them to get a tough match to qualify.
“They played well in the first set, and I told them that Springfield was going to play better in the second. You’ve just got to survive it and hang in there with them, and they did.”
In other singles plays, Troy’s Jackie Fulker lost in the first round, 6-2, 6-3 to Northmont’s Lauren Kelsey, while Emma Kazmaier lost in the first round, 6-2, 6-3 to Wayne’s Kristen Hooker.
Piqua’s Emma Grunkemeyer lost a preliminary match 6-2, 6-0 to Stivers’ Lillian Thomas. Alexa Knorr-Sullivan lost in the first round, 6-0, 6-1 to Stivers’ Emma Johnson. Morgan Ford lost in the first round, 6-0, 6-0 to Sidney’s Hailey New.
In doubles play, Kayla Schulten and Grace Ryan lost 6-0, 6-1 to Butler’s fourth-seeded team of Jenna Al-Bezreh and Ashley Hess. Hope Conway and Rikki Ramirez lost 6-0, 6-0 in a preliminary match to Stebbins.
The sectional finals will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at Troy Community Park, with next week’s district tournament being played Thursday and Saturday in Mason.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.