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September 22, 2019
 

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Ada netters fall to Ottawa Hills in OTCA 3rd round

Successful season sees several team and individual records set

Story and photos by Cort Reynolds
- PHOTOS AT BOTTOM OF STORY -

The Ada tennis team lost a tough match to state power Ottawa Hills 4-1 in the regional semifinals of the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association tournament Friday at the Ohio Northern University courts.

The Bulldogs end their season 14-5 with the defeat, as they advanced one round further in the OTCA tourney than last year. They set a boys program record for single-season wins.

The Green Bears (11-1) move on to face state-ranked Lexington in the Div. II OTCA northwest region finals.

"The two accomplishments that meant the most to my kids (this season) were making a run to the OTCA Division II regional semi-finals as a team, and qualifying three singles players to the OHSAA district tournament," said Ada first-year head coach Cody Hurley.

Gritty sophomore Miranda Wills persevered in a hard-fought 6-3, 7-6 victory at third singles over Andrew Lyon to provide the lone Bulldog win vs. Ottawa Hills.

The heated battle featured several long rallies, and the steady groundstroking Wills also won the vast majority of points when she came to the net.

In a second-set tiebreaker, Wills prevailed 7-5 as she ended the tense match in straight sets with a clean passing shot.

The Wills victory avenged a tight third-set tiebreaker loss to Lyon in April. She finished her season with a fine 23-6 record and also was third singles champ at the Northern Buckeye Tennis League tournament. Wills is 41-9 in singles play through two seasons.

Junior Isaac Spar lost in straight sets to OH state qualifier Matt McGee at first singles 6-1, 6-1.

The match was more competitive than the final score as the athletic Spar fought talented sophomore McGee regularly on long rallies.

Spar posted a sparkling 23-5 singles record this spring. He is 47-19 in three seasons, third on the wins list since the program was resurrected. He also won the NBTL second singles title.

Senior Cade Mullins lost his final Bulldog match at second singles, a close bout with long rallies and many good lobs against hustling Jack Schwann. But Schwann won 6-4, 6-2.

Mullins ended up with a strong 21-8 record in singles this spring. He was a three-time district qualifier, and took second in the NBTL first singles flight.

He ended up with 75 career wins, ranking behind only Zach Beaschler. Mullins will join Beaschler on the ONU men's tennis squad in 2020.

The Bulldog first doubles tandem of senior Morgan Swick and freshman southpaw Dexter Woods dropped a competitive match to Ian Schlatter and Henry McQueen by a 6-3, 6-1 count.

Woods posted a 13-12 record while Swick was 11-14 this season.

Ada juniors Hunter Wells and Reece Evans also lost at second doubles to Jack Burke and Henry Harder 6-0, 6-1.

"I can't put into words how proud I am of these kids," said coach Cody Hurley in starting to sum up the season. "When I took the job at Ada last September, a few people mentioned to me that it was potentially going to be a rough year after losing Zach Beaschler to graduation.

"However, I think it's safe to say that we have far exceeded expectations and have made the entire Ada community proud of what we have accomplished this season," he noted.

The Ada team set many records and achieved several firsts this season:
- 3 OHSAA District Qualifiers
- 3 OHSAA District Singles Qualifiers
- 3 OHSAA District Honorable Mention Student-Athletes
- 3 Players with 20+ Wins in a Single Season
- 7 OHSAA Sectional Quarterfinalists in a Single Season (previous best was 5)
- 3 OTCA Racquet Award Winners in a Single Season
- Combined Individual Matches Won in a Single Season (90)
- Combined Singles Matches Won in a Single Season (71)
- Combined Doubles Matches Won in a Single Season (19)
- Dual Match Wins in a Single Season (14)
- OTCA Regional Semi-Finalist.

"The achievements and accolades are certainly something we are proud of, but it wasn't our main focus this season," Hurley continued. "Of course we set performance goals, but the true goal was for each student-athlete to learn and grow through their athletic experience on the team.

"We focused on perseverance, desire to succeed, and sportsmanship. These are three life lessons that I feel we grasped through the course of the year. In the 'real' world you have to be able to overcome adversity (and) act professionally in any situation, all while wanting to strive for excellence in everything that you do.

"In terms of performance goals, we accomplished everything we set out to do which is an accomplishment in itself," he said. "Breaking 11 school records while qualifying seven players to the quarterfinal round of the sectional tournament was a huge success for our program.

"We started the year having struggles with depth, but as the season went on we improved and we displayed that we are a great team at every singles and doubles position at sectionals."

Three Bulldog singles players made it to districts for the first time ever this spring.

"Cade Mullins, Isaac Spar, and Miranda Wills all qualified for the OHSAA district tournament in singles, which is a rare accomplishment few teams ever achieve," Hurley pointed out. "Out of 360 Ohio schools that competed in sectionals this year, only four qualified three players in singles.

"Those schools were: Ada, Cincinnati Country Day (ranked third in Div. II), Columbus Academy (ranked first in Div. II), and Dublin Jerome (ranked fifth in Div. I). For our program to be listed with teams at that level of high school tennis is unprecedented.

"Our players may not train with private coaches at country clubs year-round, but it goes to show what you can achieve when you have their work ethic, super-competitive mindset, and passion for the game. I'm extremely blessed to be their head coach," he noted.

"It's crazy to think that back in November, we started doing after school work-outs in the gym and I was teaching players who had never picked up a racket before how to play the game," Hurley continued. "The progress of each individual on our roster has been absolutely astonishing.

"From top to bottom, we have come so far and it is safe to say that the future is very bright here at Ada High School for the next few seasons. I hope to see more and more students in the village become interested in the game of tennis so that way we can continue to grow the program in the future.

"On behalf of my parents and players, I just want to say thank you to the village of Ada, the surrounding community, school administration, the Ada student body, the Ohio Northern men's and women's tennis programs, and all Ada High School alumni for all of your support during this historic season," Hurley added.

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