Norwalk edges Willard to win host doubles tournament

Mark Hazelwood • Updated Sep 2, 2018 at 3:32 PM

NORWALK — Three days earlier, weather denied a head-to-head Willard vs. Norwalk tennis match.

But on Saturday, the six-team Norwalk doubles tournament essentially turned into the Crimson Flashes versus the Truckers — and the results didn't disappoint.

Host Norwalk and Willard went head-to-head in three of the four doubles championship matches, while the No. 4 doubles match had Norwalk against Findlay. And while the Flashes won two of the three head-to-head title matches, it was Norwalk scoring 100 points to Willard's 95 to capture the team title.

Findlay (50) was a distant third, and Clyde was fourth (37).

“It was very exciting. We played some good teams, but I was happy with how well Jordan (Gran) and I played together," Norwalk's Megan Berry said. "Willard is very good and has some great players. It was good to get to see them today after losing that match on Wednesday."

Berry and Gran won the No. 1 doubles championship by besting Willard's Addie Slone and Jo Brubaker in the finals, 6-4, 6-2.

"Megan is really good at hitting strokes," Gran said. "We use what we're good at, and go off of that. It's also always good practice to come out here and play all day against all these Willard teams and get an initial look at them after losing the match (to weather) this week."

In the No. 2 doubles final, it was Willard’s Emma Moll and Kennedy Daub topping Norwalk’s Sela and Mara Berry in two tight sets, 7-6 (5), 6-4. Moll, who is the No. 1 singles standout for the Flashes, had never played with Daub prior to Saturday.

"It was definitely an experience playing with Emma for the first time, but it turned out great," Daub said. "I was really excited for it going in, and couldn't be happier with how it went."

Moll also said Willard was looking forward to the Norwalk match, and noted that the Flashes will see them again this Saturday at their host doubles tournament.

"Norwalk has a really good coaching system, so they're extremely good every single year no matter what," Moll said. "And Coach (Josh) Baurle is a really good coach, and he works so hard with us. It's definitely a good matchup between us right now."

In the No. 3 doubles final, another tight Norwalk vs. Willard matchup also went to the Flashes. The team of Tori Barnett and Whitney Robinson bested Norwalk’s Gabby Horowitz and Alexa Moore in a three-set tiebreaker, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 10-7.

At fourth doubles, Norwalk's Lauren Metcalf and Emma Trost beat the Findlay duo of Ashley and Kelsey Coleman (6-2, 6-2). But what proved to be key was the semifinal matchup that saw Metcalf and Trost top Willard's Addy Paxton and Kalli Sowers (6-4, 6-4).

Paxton and Sowers then bounced back with an 8-2 win over Findlay in the third-place match.

With each team splitting the four titles, the tournament was swung by the Metcalf-Trost victory.

"We know Norwalk is great every year, and we were right there with them," Bauerle said. "It came down to that semifinal match at fourth doubles, basically. Our girls learned some lessons about starting out strong.

"A little bit of mixed feelings, as this was one of our goals to win this tournament," he added. "Getting second isn't what we wanted, but getting three teams in the title match and another team to third place — it's hard to be disappointed with that. Overall it was a great day."

Norwalk coach Chris Higgins knew a big day across all four positions was going to be needed in order to win the tournament.

"Coming into the tournament, we knew that i was going to take a lot to win," he said. "We had four great matches against Willard, and we both went 2-2. Megan and Jordan were rock solid through the first two matches, and the final against Willard saw some outstanding, aggressive points for each team."

Higgins was proud of his Nos. 2 and 3 doubles teams that ultimately lost to the Flashes.

"Sela and Mara played their hearts out in the final," he said. "They gave incredible effort, but came up just short. Gabby and Alexa were in a streaky final. The tiebreaker did not go their way, but they should be proud of their finish.

"But probably the biggest match for our entire team today was that fourth doubles semifinal," Higgins added. "Not only did it give Lauren and Emma the momentum to claim the title, but also clinched the team championship."

Both Norwalk (8-1, 4-0) and Willard (6-1, 4-0) currently sit atop the Lake and Bay divisions in the Sandusky Bay Conference — both both have plenty of challenges in their championships requests.

"We have everyone back from last year and have five seniors," Moll said. "Everyone coming up is going to be really good, too. The future is very bright for Willard tennis."

Meanwhile, Norwalk ended the Northern Ohio League with 50 straight victories and multiple league titles — but did not win the SBC Lake in its first year in 2017.

"It's definitely been a talking point and the goal, obviously," Gran said. "I think we do have the capability of doing that, it's a matter of putting the work in as a team and improving each day."

Norwalk hosts Sandusky on Tuesday, while Willard entertains Oak Harbor. 

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