This weekend’s Greater Cincinnati Tennis Coaches Association (GCTCA) Coaches Classic tournament will feature some of the best high school girls’ tennis talent in the area.
The regular season event serves as a precursor to the section tournaments that take place from September 30th to October 5th.
The tournament includes 11 flights in different locations.
- Flight A at Mason
- Flight B in St. Xavier
- Flight C at Sycamore
- Flight D in Princeton
- Flight E on Cincinnati Country Day
- Flight F around
- Flight G at Mount Notre Dame
- Flight H in Monroe
- Flight I in Fenwick
- Flight J in the northwest
- Flight “J” in West Clermont
For a preview of the week’s action, here is a list of the storylines and teams to watch.
5. Indian Hill to Overcome Injury / Illness
The Braves were put in a tough spot early in the season when their top three individual players got injured or sick, but the response has been remarkable.
Indian Hill is on the rise with an 11-game winning streak and the Braves have set a 14-2 aggregate record while beating several top teams in the region this season.
“Our team has achieved great success this season without their top talent and by educating JV players and non-starters to consistently contribute significant victories,” said head coach Gary Samuels.
The Braves are currently led by Hayley Hirsch (Cincinnati) and Morgan Coburn (Georgetown).
Hirsch is a four-star recruit who recently returned from a seasonal ankle sprain. Coburn, who has not been in the line-up since the first game of the season, is also a four-star recruit but will not play in the Coaches’ Classic.
The line-up for the Indian Hill singles was bolstered by transferring Bella Kirby from St. Ursula, who was only available for six games this season. Samuels confirmed that she cannot take part in the Coaches Classic.
The other inactive for the Braves this weekend are Samantha Pregel and possibly Jessica August, who sustained an injury on Monday.
Despite the obstacles facing the team, the Braves look to the Coaches Classic as an opportunity to experience. Last year, the team finished third overall at the event.
“The Coaches Classic is important for the tenacity and stamina of our team as well as for the honor of being included year after year in Flight A, in which the eight best teams from Division 1 and Division 2 take part in the city’s team championship,” said Samuels said.
4. Sycamore plays better than expected
Sycamore received an Honorable Mention in this week’s Division I Ohio Tennis Zone poll, and head coach Mike Teets was pleasantly surprised with the team’s performance this year.
“Our team has impressed me all season with their tenacity and work ethic,” he said. “They have reached a much higher level than I expected before the start of the season and they continue to do a great job.”
There are three seniors on the Aves squad, including No. 1 single player Harsitha Kalaiarasan, Linya Guo and Maya Fukuda.
Sycamore has hit a 10-4 record so far in 2019, but that success will be called into question when the Aves face a tough slate at the Coaches Classic. Teets’ goal remains relatively simple: to maximize the effort to fight for the title.
“For the Coaches Classic our goal is to compete with the best teams in town and finish as high as possible. With Mason and Indian Hill as clear favorites, we will try to compete hard and see what we can achieve. I know the girls see every game as a great opportunity and make a 100% effort, “said Teets.
3. St. Ursulas mix of youth and veterans
The Bulldogs set up a squad that provides a mix of veterans and a few newcomers.
“We have a good mix of veteran experience and youth on the team learning what it takes to compete in big high school games,” said head coach Jason Woods.
Seasoned players include junior Elizabeth Pendergast, rated a four-star recruit by Tennisrecruiting.com. She has looks from schools like the University of Cincinnati and Western Kentucky and set an impressive 14: 1 record in 2019.
She will be St. Ursula’s No. 1 single player as No. 2 seed in the Coaches Classic.
The experienced cohort also includes senior captains Lucy Gharibian-Aberg and Kellie Hannan, who will team up in the coaches Classic in double place No. 1 for the Bulldogs. Gharibian-Aberg and Hannan are both four-year-old postmen at St. Ursula and have set a 7-1 record this season.
“I assume we’ll go hard and never go back to the challenge that lies ahead,” said Wood. “I hope that my young children will continue to learn what it takes to compete with the top teams in the region and that it encourages them to want to train harder in the off-season.”
2. Ursuline plays some of her best tennis games
The Lions are at the top of the Girls Greater Catholic League with a 4-10 record and have played against high profile opponents such as Dublin Coffman, Indian Hill, Pickerington North and Sycamore. All but one are featured in this week’s Ohio Tennis Zone leaderboard.
The Lions got off to a slower start to the season after graduating from three key players from last year’s team, but the transition after the roster has been positive, especially recently.
“We have lost a lot of quality leadership and experience,” said head coach Steve Sutherland. “It’s been fun to see how the team evolves and how different people get strengthened over the course of the season, which has boosted our team chemistry and confidence. I think that’s why you see us playing our best ball right now, which is important . “
According to Sutherland, the team’s strength lies in the Lions’ three best individual players – juniors Nina Dhaliwal and Brigid Lynch, and second year Bridget Estes.
However, Sutherland also pointed to the team’s success as the doubles teams have improved in recent weeks.
A battle-hardened Ursuline team, which recently emerged victorious in several close games, is ready for the challenge that the Coaches Classic poses.
“There is no easy game and we look forward to the challenge,” said Sutherland. “These types of tournaments make you a better player and we expect us to compete at the highest level every time on the pitch. I have no doubt that we will be ready on Thursday (and) Saturday.”
1. Mason defends last year’s crown
At last season’s GCTCA Coaches’ Classic, Mason was successful and never looked back. On the way to the tournament championship, he gave up only one of five individual titles.
More:Mason dominates Flight A at GCTCA Coaches Classic
The two-time defending champions and top-ranked Division I program (12-0 this season) in the Ohio Tennis Zone leaderboard can expect largely the same from the Comets – though they face stiff competition.
“We’re really looking forward to this tournament because of the level of competition,” said head coach Mike Reid. “We’re always looking for a challenge and this tournament is the best in the country to bring together top players.
Mason returns a number of players who participated in the event last year, including senior Sanjana Reddy and second Anna Tonkal, who each reached their respective finals a year ago. One of the comets is senior Ananya Aggarwal, who took third place in the state doubles with Reddy in 2018.
This year the comets also have two tandems of sisters playing doubles side by side – the Chadas and the Kruses. Mason has a large roster and as a result the team has enough depth to enlist two teams in the tournament.
The comets adhere to the classic sports mantra that you have to be the best to beat the best.
“To play at a high level at the end of the season you need a competition that will get you to do your best. When you have teams like Indian Hill, Sycamore, Ursuline and the rest of the top Cincinnati teams, you are You’re really helpful when you’re trying to prepare your kids for the championship, “Reid said.
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