Finishing third in the rugged Suburban League National Conference Championships at Medina Highland, the Twinsburg girls tennis team had some bright moments.
Twinsburg didn’t win any individual titles at the tournament Sept. 20, but the Tigers earned valuable points both on the courts as well as in the overall standings in the league.
Brecksville-Broadview Heights won the eight-team competition with 39 points. Hudson edged Twinsburg for second place with 34 points, and the Tigers were third with 28 points.
The Tigers and Explorers ended in a tie for second place as both teams amassed 13 points. The Bees, 7-0 in conference matches during the regular season, won the overall title with 16 points.
"I thought our team was playing their best tennis and I thought we were prepared," said Tiger head coach Chris Kuzas.
Highlighting the action were the Tigers’ doubles teams, who each placed second overall for Twinsburg.
There was a critical win over Hudson's Samantha Sigler and Emi Uijtewaal in the semifinals by seniors Krishna Patel and Hannah Moeliono in second doubles action.
The Tiger duo won 7-6, 4-6, 7-6 in the semis against the rival Explorers before falling to Brecksville in the championship round.
Kuzas saw another big-time doubles victory happen in the first doubles action, led by the Tiger duo of Allison Riley and Sahaj Bhambra. Brecksville beat the Tigers in the finals.
In the semis, Riley and Bhambra had a superb win, 6-3, 7-6, over the strong Hudson duo of Katie Tuttle and Jennifer Grainger.
Twinsburg had a big week of action against Hudson as the Tigers had a critical win over the Explorers Sept. 16 in regular season play to finish at 6-1.
"I knew going in that regular season match up, that first and second singles would be very tough to get wins, but I thought we had chances at the other spots," explained Kuzas.
Senior Aarushi Singh lost 6-0, 6-0 at first singles, junior Grace McIlroy fell 6-1, 6-0 at the second spot, and junior Ashley Veverka won 6-4, 6-1 at third singles.
"Ashley won with a comfortable second set and the match really came down to really tight matches at doubles," said the coach.
"The second doubles team of Krishna Patel and Hannah Moeliono couldn't convert a couple match points and lost the second set in a tiebreak, but continued to fight and finished out a close third set for a 6-4, 6-7, and 6-4 win," said Kuzas.
In first doubles play, seniors Riley and Bhambra won a back and forth first set, also lost the second set in a tiebreaker, and then had a spirited comeback.
Trailing 4-1 and things not looking too great, Riley and Bhambra fired back to win 6-4, 6-7, 6-4.
"The doubles team really came back and as a team, we came back to win and I am so incredibly proud of the team, but especially for the senior doubles teams for pulling out a win," explained Kuzas.
"Other players could have given up or made excuses like being tired, but they fought as hard as they could until the end and gave our team the biggest win of the year."
The Tigers (11-6) lost a 4-1 decision Wednesday against Walsh Jesuit (10-7).
Patel and Veverka, playing at second doubles, teamed up to register a big second doubles win of 7-5, 6-2.
Twinsburg also had a 3-2 win against Kenston Sept. 17.
Sophomore Ella Bleyl captured a 6-4, 6-2 victory at third singles. McIlroy and Veverka won at second doubles and the veterans Bhambra and Riley won at first doubles.
"We had a couple seniors not playing, so I needed the team to step up to get the victory," said Kuzas.
Kuzas also has continually praised the entire Tiger squad on their academic excellence which has been a program staple for a number of years.
Even with league and post season tournaments, Kuzas is looking at his young talent in practice and in match opportunities. Twinsburg hosts Hathaway Brown Wednesday and plays at Shaker Heights Thursday to wrap up the regular season.
"The success of Veverka, McIlroy and Bleyl shows that we should still be a strong team for the next couple of years," said Kuzas, after the Kenston match.