MASON – Shyla Aggarwal is the first state champion in the history of Mason women’s tennis.
Aggarwal faced Whitehouse Anthony Wayne junior Lilly Black in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division I State Championship game and won 6-7 (7), 6-3, 6-2.
“I’m really happy. I’ve worked really hard all season, and so has the team,” said Aggarwal.
The match was a rematch of last year’s semi-finals in DI singles, in which Aggarwal won 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, securing second place from last year.
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It’s been exactly a year since Aggarwal lost that match, and since then she has been unstoppable in the singles competition. This year for Mason, she was 26-0 in singles matches, closing her tournament run with a championship win on Saturday at the Lindner Family Sports Complex.
“I’m thrilled for her,” Mason coach Mike Reid said. “She’s a great girl. Fantastic tennis player with a lot of heart, so we couldn’t have had a better first champion in Mason.”
Redemption did not come easily. Black turned out to be a championship game when she won the first set with a tiebreaker, coming back from a 5-4 deficit to earn the next three points and win the set.
As Aggarwal walked towards the back wall between the points of the second set, she said “patience”. She thought she was in a hurry, and just saying the words to herself seemed to flip a switch.
“I think the first set I was a little more impatient and wasn’t playing as smart and trying to do things that I shouldn’t have had,” said Aggarwal. “I think the next two sets I really worked to try to be patient and wait for the right ball and do more first serves.”
After giving up on game one of the second set, Aggarwal turns things around almost immediately, winning the next four games in a row and not allowing Black to reach more than a point in any of those four games. She then easily won that set, 6-2, setting the third win-win set.
This set was closer than the 6-2 win for Aggarwal suggests. Half of those eight matches in the final set reached two points before Aggarwal finished the historic victory. She once again credited her patience and improved focus in the final two sets for being able to walk away with the clutch points needed for victory.
“I think (patience) really helped. It’s something I’ve been working on as well,” Aggarwal said. “I think a lot of it was, who can play smarter? Because Lilly and I are literally exactly the same, so I think it was just about who can play smarter and who can stay. all the way through. “
In the end, Aggarwal won the last three games to win the third set and the championship.
Once the two players were done exchanging post-match pleasantries, Aggarwal’s teammates greeted her by chanting “Franchise” to the junior singles champion. She then proceeded to the main court, where she finished the last piece of the ID singles backing, slapping her name where it marked “Champion”.
Aggarwal handily won their semi-final match earlier in the day, beating Tess Bucher of North Canton Hoover, 6-1, 6-1.
Mason’s doubles team of Anna Tonkal and Risha Chada lost their semi-final match to Kayra Koprulu and Caroline Moritz of Rocky River Magnificat, 5-7, 6-3, 6-1.
Mason will be competing in the team tennis tournament on Sunday, but in the meantime Aggarwal plans to rest and enjoy his victory after playing about five hours of tennis in one day.
“First it was for me, so now I have to continue for the team,” said Aggarwal. “So that’s what I’m going to do … And a lot of Advil.”