AVON LAKE — They were the biggest points, in the biggest tiebreaker, in the biggest set, in the biggest match to win the biggest tournament of their lives.
The Avon Lake second doubles team of freshman Kate Began and sophomore Molly Clayton found a way to fight off a pair of match points in the third-set tiebreaker, and rallied for a 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (11-9) clutch win over the Brecksville team of Michelle Williams and Stevana Punpurungsi.
The Shoregals battled back after trailing 5-2 in the third set and survived a back-and-forth finale that eventually earned Avon Lake a share of the Southwestern Conference tournament title with the Bees. Clayton and Began calmly knocked down the final two points after a nerve-wracking changeover with the tiebreak score tied at 9.
“I was shaking,” Clayton said. “I was trying to drink my water and I could barely hold my bottle because my hands were shaking so bad.”
“We were down 2-5 and somehow found a way to comeback and win,” Began said. “That was our second straight three-set match, so we were a little tired.”
The Shoregals earned the tournament title split with dominating performances from sophomore Nikki Chiricosta, who dropped just two games en route to the first singles championship, and the first doubles team of Jenna Goedde and Cassie Simmelink, who downed Brecksville’s Elizabeth and Rebecca Hanna 6-2, 6-3 to win the championship.
The Shoregals also needed a solid runner-up performance by Maddie Shanko at third singles and a third-place finish at second singles by Jessica Began, who earned her final win just minutes after the second doubles championship match had begun.
“I’ve never been more proud of a team of girls in my life,” Shoregals coach Rich Mostardi said. “The funny thing is I’m so hard on them in practice and I’m always telling them that it will pay off. They worked their butts off and this is the result.”
The Shoregals’ reward?
A rematch with Brecksville on Monday for their SWC dual match, which — barring either team stumbling against any other SWC teams — should be for the outright league championship.
“(The Shoregals) can come out and cheer a tie today,” Bees coach Jesse Shuster said. “But we’re going to go out there on the same courts and cheer a victory on Monday.”
The “bulletin board” statement didn’t seem to faze Mostardi, who said the Shoregals “are just as confident.”
“We’ve won the SWC four years in a row, yet (the Bees) are getting all the press,” Mostardi said. “I’ve been talking to these guys about that. I said, ‘Let’s show ’em.’”
Contact Shaun Bennett at 329-7137
TEAM STANDINGS: Avon Lake 32, Brecksville 32, Westlake 25, Amherst 13, North Olmsted 13, Olmsted Falls 10, Midpark 8, Berea 7.
QUARTERFINALS: Chiricosta (AL) def. Webb (NO), 6-0, 6-0; Voiers (W) def. Conti (OF), 6-3, 6-1; Mendoza (A) def. Austin (M), 6-0, 6-0; Sullivan (Br) def. Tuck (Be), 6-0, 6-0. SEMIFINALS: Chiricosta def. Voiers, 6-0, 6-0; Sullivan def. Mendoza, 6-1, 6-2. THIRD-PLACE: Mendoza def. Voiers, 6-1, 6-4. CHAMPIONSHIP: Chiricosta def. Sullivan, 6-1, 6-1.
QUARTERFINALS: Bonamer (Br) def. Kereky (NO), 6-1, 6-0; Aesram (OF) def. Crossen (M), 6-1, 6-0; Wang (W) def. Sayler (Be), 6-2, 6-0; J. Began (AL) def. Coughlin (A), 6-1, 6-3. SEMIFINALS: Bonamer def. Aesram, 6-0, 6-0; Wang def. J. Began, 6-3, 6-1. THIRD-PLACE: J. Began def. Aesram, 6-2, 6-3. CHAMPIONSHIP: Bonamer def. Wang, 6-1, 6-1.
QUARTERFINALS: Griffin (Br) def. Maciver (OF), 6-0, 6-0; Kehl (Be) def. Costanzo (M), 6-1, 6-0; Baaklini (W) def. Liskay (NO), 6-1, 6-4; Shanko (AL) def. Szucs (A), 6-0, 6-1. SEMIFINALS: Griffin def. Kehl, 6-1, 6-0; Shanko def. Baaklini, 7-5, 6-2. THIRD-PLACE: Baaklini def. Kehl, 6-2, 6-0. CHAMPIONSHIP: Griffin def. Shanko, 6-0, 6-0.
QUARTERFINALS: Goedde/Simmelink (AL) def. Mihalek/Helser (Be), 6-0, 6-0; Severo/Majcher (M) def. Novak/Chokshi (NO), 7-5, 3-6, 6-4; McCalister/Nedorost (W) def. Knight/Diettrick (OF), 6-4, 6-0; E. Hanna/R. Hanna (Br) def. Adkins/Noskova (A), 6-0, 6-3. SEMIFINALS: Goedde/Simmelink def. Severo/Majcher, 6-1, 6-0; Hanna/Hanna def. McCalister/Nedorost, 6-2, 6-2. THIRD-PLACE: McCalister/Nedorost def. Severo/Majcher, 6-1, 6-2. CHAMPIONSHIP: Goedde/Simmelink def. Hanna/Hanna, 6-2, 6-3.
QUARTERFINALS: Williams/Punturungsi (Br) def. Klesta/Uhr (OF), 6-0, 6-1; Georgeson/Gibbons (M) def. Coleman/Ehrman (NO), 7-5, 7-5; Smith/Lydon (W) def. Carrias/Ashwell (Be), 6-0, 6-0; K. Began/Clayton (AL) def. Smith/Brooks (A), 6-0, 6-1. SEMIFINALS: Williams/Punturungsi def. Georgeson/Gibbons, 6-1, 6-1; K. Began/Clayton def. Smith/Lydon, 6-3, 1-6, 6-4. THIRD-PLACE: Smith/Lydon def. Georgeson/Gibbons, 6-3, 6-1. CHAMPIONSHIP: K. Began/Clayton def. Williams/Punturungsi, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (11-9).
Elyria wins doubles tourney
SANDUSKY — Three Elyria teams won championships as the Pioneers were the team champions at the Erie Shore Conference Doubles Tournament at Sandusky High School on Saturday.
Elyria’s Amanda Nielsen and Holly Rudisill won the second doubles championship, while Kara Gibbs and Bethany Lescher duplicated the feat at third doubles. Kara Newton and Cathy Watson won the fourth doubles title for Elyria.
Jackie Penfound and Sarah Toby of the Pioneers were fourth in the first doubles competition.
Admiral King was second in the race for the team championship, and Sandusky was third and Sandusky St. Mary fourth.