Ryan Shaffer returned from the state tennis tournament advising Tess Bucher to keep his chin up.
“She was 36-0 going into the last day of the season,” tennis coach Hoover said last week as he looked back on the season. “How could I be anything but proud of her?”
Bucher, a Viking sophomore, won her first two games at the OHSAA Division I Women’s State Championships last weekend. This placed her in the semi-final on Saturday, where she lost 6-1, 6-0 to Mason’s junior Shyla Aggarwal. The tournament was at Mason.
Aggarwal then outlasted Whitehouse Anthony Wayne junior Lilly Black in the Championship game, 6-7, 6-3, 6-2. It was a replay of the 2020 State Semifinals in which Aggarwal beat Black 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.
Bucher finished in the third-place game on Saturday, losing 6-2, 2-6, 6-0 to Olentangy Berlin senior Ella Franz. Bucher had outlived Franz 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in the 2020 quarter-finals.
Franz has ties to County Stark. Her mother, Elizabeth, is a former high school student in Louisville. His grandparents are Paul and Janet (Zwick) Harold of Louisville. His great-grandfather, Joe Zwick of Louisville, celebrated his 98th birthday at the state tournament.
Paul Harold shared a bit of Ella Franz’s family history.
“: Elizabeth, the mom, was interested in music and theater. Neither she nor Janet, the grandmother, played tennis. Janet is an Aquin graduate who did track and field. However, Nicole Catalano , a Louisville tennis greats, babysat Elizabeth when she was young. “
The state tournament was filled with strong players. Singles champion Aggarwal had perhaps her toughest game against sophomore Cleveland St. Joseph Amara Brahmbhatt before winning a semi-final 4-6, 6-2, 6-4. Bucher beat Brahmbhatt in straight sets in the district tournament.
Most of the state’s top players focus on tennis all year round. Bucher shares his sports program between tennis and softball.
Bucher reached the state semifinals for a second consecutive year. After doing so in 2020, she quickly hit the “winter circuit”.
“They’ve been pretty tough for the next four months,” Shaffer said. “After the high school season, she took a step forward and played in these high profile tournaments until she got into softball.
“She has made four finals and won one in top level tournaments. I will be looking forward to seeing if she can make a jump again.”
County Stark was also represented by two doubles teams at the state tournament.
Hoover senior Izzy Warburton and junior Angelina Koinoglou took a tough break when they couldn’t train for the week because Koinoglou was ill. They still managed to win a straight sets match in the first round before losing to future state champions Clara Owen and Caroline Hinshaw of Centerville.
Jackson’s juniors Maddy Altman and Paige Reese, in their third straight state tournament, lost a competitive first-round match.
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