By Josh Brown
TROY — Hannah Essick may have won two straight sectional titles at doubles entering this year’s Division I sectional tournament.
But competing in the singles bracket this season? Not much of a transition.
“She played singles all year for us. This is just Hannah being Hannah,” Troy tennis coach Mark Goldner said.
Essick, the No. 2 seed in the singles bracket, cruised through her two matches Wednesday at Troy Community Park, advancing to next week’s district tournament. She will be joined by both of Troy’s doubles teams, as well, with the team of Maggie Hennessy and Ashley Bruns and the team of Sierra Verstraten and Zoey Scancarello both advancing to the sectional semifinals and qualifying.
“Five is probably the most I’ve had go to district coaching the girls,” Goldner said. “Today was a good day.”
Essick had an easy day. She defeated Fairborn’s Kyla Secrest 6-1, 6-0, then she made short work of Springfield’s Amanda Dillon in the quarterfinal match, 6-0, 6-0 to advance to Saturday’s semifinal round.
And while moving to doubles the past two seasons has meant altering tactics and getting used to a different style, Wednesday’s play was just business as usual.
“The last couple of years have actually been harder,” Essick said. “It was much easier to just keep playing singles this year.”
And while she’s already heading to district, a third straight sectional title would help her accomplish her next goal.
“I’d like to go into district seeded No. 1 so I can play a No. 4,” she said. “I wanted to at least make it to district in singles, and now I’ve done that. No I want to win at least my first match at district, since we did that at doubles.”
“Hannah played really well today,” Goldner said. “She was perfectly fine at singles. She did well.”
In Saturday’s semifinal, Essick will play Northmont’s Kennedy Harden, who upset No. 3 seed Madison Peyton from Butler to start Wednesday’s play as the Thunderbolts advanced all three of their singles players.
Essick’s doubles partner for both of those sectional titles, Hennessy, teamed up with fellow singles player Bruns this season — and the duo went into the sectional seeded third.
They played strong all day, routing Fairborn’s M. Koonce and D. Thacker 6-1, 6-0 and then defeating Butler’s A. Bohannon and M. Lane 6-0, 6-0 in the quarterfinal round to advance.
“I think the surprise of the day was Maggie and Ashley,” Goldner said. “They’ve only played one set together in practice thanks to some rainouts, but they came out today and only lost one game. They played really well together.”
Verstraten and Scancarello, the No. 4 seed and Troy’s first doubles team all season long, won a battle against Sidney’s A. Edens and N. Riegel to start the day, winning 7-6 (4), 6-2. They then shut down Fairborn’s S. Osborne and P. Chapman 6-0 6-2 to advance to the semifinal.
“I was really happy for Sierra and Zoey,” Goldner said. “They’ve gotten along great all year long. For two seniors to get to go to district together, that’s a great way for them to go out.”
In singles play, junior Meredith Pruitt lost to Butler’s Ashley Hess 7-5, 6-2, while freshman Katie Sherrick lost to Tecumseh’s No. 4 seed Karli Mulkey 6-2, 6-1.
Play will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at Troy Community Park, with Dayton Center Courts as the backup plan if the rain interferes.
* Division II
After their match was rained out Tuesday, Tippecanoe’s Ladia Coning and Greenon’s second-seeded Arian McNeil faced off in their quarterfinal match Wednesday at Troy Community Park, with McNeil holding on for a 6-2, 6-4 victory.
Coning fell behind 3-2 and then lost the next three straight to drop the first set. In the second, though, she remained competitive, forcing long rallies and even taking a 3-2 lead. She fell behind 4-3, though, and McNeil held on to win despite Coning fighting off three match points in the final game.
“That’s Ladia right there — she never gives up,” Tippecanoe coach Kaci Finfrock said. “She always battles. After she lost that first set 6-2 against a seeded player, she very easily could’ve given up. But no, she fought all the way through to the end.”
The Red Devils still have five players in Saturday’s semifinal round — Kennedy Reeder, the doubles team of Ally Merrick and Sophia McDowell and the doubles team of Jordan Jones and Victoria Nordquist. Play begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at Troy Community Park.
Correction: In the Sept. 30 article entitled “Devils send 5 to district,” the match between Tippecanoe’s Victoria Nordquist and Jordan Jones and Milton-Union’s Ashley Wombold and Abby Hissong was reported to have been moved to Dayton Center Courts for the third set. It was actually played at Schroeder Tennis Center. The Troy Daily News apologizes for the error.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.