ELIDA — The Bath girls tennis team made school history in dramatic fashion when the Wildkittens secured their first overall Western Buckeye League title Saturday at Elida High School.
Bath, which tied with Shawnee as co-champions of the tournament after both finished with identical 46 points Saturday, was crowned champion because of the Wildkittens winning the regular season by going 9-0 in dual meets. A team gets 10 points for winning the regular season and since Shawnee and Bath were co-champions of the tournament each received 9.5 points. Bath finished with 19.5 total points.
Because Wapakoneta and Shawnee will finish the regular season Monday the second place points have not been determined but the Indians can only get 18.5 or 17.5 points, depending on the outcome of contest against the Redskins.
Finishing fourth was Van Wert, followed by Celina and Ottawa-Glandorf, finishing tied for fifth. Elida was seventh and St. Marys was eighth with Defiance ninth and Kenton 10th.
Bath ended a 44-year drought, the amount of years it has participated in the WBL tournament, to garner its first league crown. The win also ends Shawnee’s three-year run of WBL championships.
An emotional Bath head coach Sandy Dackin was at a loss for words.
“This has been the team’s goal all season,” Dackin said. “Every day they were reminded of it. Every match we reminded them to keep that goal in mind, and it came down to a true team effort today because every single court mattered. I am still a little bit overwhelmed by it.”
Going into the final day, three teams, Wapakoneta, Shawnee and Bath, all had an excellent chance of winning the league title but as the day went on it soon became apparent that it would come down to the final singles match between Bath’s Esther Bolon and Shawnee’s Kumni Ojo in No. 1 singles finals.
In the tightly contested match between the top two talents, Bolon secured the first 6-4 set. But Ojo was not going down without a fight and the two competed, at times controversial, to a 6-6 tie in the second set. In the tie breaker the two fought to a 5-5 tie before Bolon secured the final two points to give her a second straight WBL No. 1 singles title.
Leading up to that final big confrontation. Bath also got a huge win from Ruby Bolon, who also won her second consecutive No. 2 singles final by beating Shawnee’s Aria Patel, 6-1, 6-1. Ruby Bolon dropped only four sets in her run to the title. This is her third overall WBL title after winning the No. 3 singles championship her freshmen year.
“They (Bolons) have been solid since the get-go,” Dackin said. “They never disappoint, and they are hard workers, and they play to win, and they always come through.”
At No. 3 singles, Shawnee’s Alora Patel downed Wapakoneta’s Makenzie Schroeder 6-0, 6-1 to win her third overall WBL singles title. Patel, who won last year’s No. 3 singles championship, dominated her bracket as she dropped only one set the entire tournament.
The real excitement came in doubles action.
The Wapakoneta pair of Casey Minning and Alyssa Good pulled out a thrilling three-set victory against Bath’s Elna Oliver and Anna Oliver, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5. It was perhaps the most exciting finals match of the day as the two teams fiercely battled each other and at one point a line judge was brought in due to the close nature of the play.
The biggest surprise of the tournament came in the second doubles bracket when the Celina team of Madina Davlatboya and Michelle Elston, who were the No. 5 seed, came out as the champions after beating the No. 4 and No. 1 seeded teams and then the No. 2 seeded team of Bath’s Rachel Wilo and Chloe Riemen, in a nail-biting three set championship match, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.
Because of Celina’s Cinderella run in the tournament it added to the tension of the No. 1 singles match and the outcome.
Dackin said the doubles performances not only in the tournament but in the regular season proved to be instrumental in the Wildkittens winning the WBL.
“All season those two courts have come through,” Dackin said. “Historically, we have had trouble finding a third court to win and this season we had two more courts to win, and we won a lot of matches 4-1 which hasn’t happened for a while so those doubles teams were super strong.
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.