TROY – When Greenville girls tennis coach Jim Koontz was figuring out how to set his lineup for this season, he decided to take his two seniors – Marabelle Lance and Anna Manges – and make them into his first doubles team.
The decision paid off in droves as the pair went 16-2 this season and qualified to this week’s district tournament as the second seed out of the Troy sectional.
“I just thought they would be a good mix,” Koontz said. “They are two seniors with experience and all that and it has really paid off.”
Last year, Lance played second doubles and Manges played second singles.
“Everything just fell into place,” Koontz said. “They are nice mild-mannered kids and they get along well. It makes me look like a coaching genius.”
On Saturday, Lance and Manges played for the district seeding and faced off against a pair of seniors from Vandalia Butler in Rachel Burton and Victoria Studebaker in the semifinals. Greenville won the match 6-2, 6-3. Butler had one lead in the first set at 2-1, but then Greenville gained control the rest of the way.
“It was a tough match, but fun,” Manges said.
They then had to face the top-seeded Butler team of Ashley Hess and Hannah Scarpelli in the sectional finals. Greenville won several games, but Butler took the overall match 6-2, 6-3 to earn the sectional’s No. 1 seed going to the district meet.
“I think it is exciting to be going to districts,” Lance said.
Manges said she felt a little more “sublime” about qualifying to the district meet.
“It just feels like we’re playing another match. That’s what it feels like to me,” she said.
Lance and Manges won’t be alone at districts, however. Greenville singles players Natalie Milligan, a junior, and Emily Marchal, a sophomore, also qualified for next week’s district tournament. It is the second straight year for Milligan to qualify for districts, and the first year for Marchal.
Milligan was the No. 2 seed in the sectional and kept that seed heading to the districts after falling to Butler’s Xia Lin in the sectional finals, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4. Milligan earned her spot in the sectional final by defeating New Carlisle Tecumseh’s Ashley Fite in the semifinal round. Marchal lost to Lin in the semifinals and then defeated Fite in the third-place match, 6-0, 6-0.
“Emily wasn’t seeded being the No. 2 singles player, but I thought she could go,” Koontz said. “She got in the fourth seeds bracket and kind of breezed through it. Natalie has played No. 1 since she was a freshman and went to districts last year. When you get down to districts it is a whole new ball game. This kind of worked out for us.”
The Division I district tournament will be held beginning at 9 a.m. on Thursday at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason. In the singles bracket, Milligan’s first opponent will be Anna Svitkovich, a junior from Loveland. Marchal will battle Mason junior Emma Kruse in her first match. Lance and Manges will face off against seniors Amanda Wilson and Sara Bolger from Sycamore in their first match.
The Daily Advocate sports editor Skip Weaver can be reached at (937) 569-4316 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter at @skipweaver65.