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Looking Back at the OHSAA’s Girls Tennis Championships

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Looking Back at the OHSAA's Tennis Championships
A centennial moment

By Timothy L. Hudak
Sports Heritage Specialty Publications
4814 Broadview Rd.
Cleveland, Ohio 44109
www.SportsHeritagePublications.net
 

Tennis is one of the first sports that girls were allowed to play at the high school level, the sport being played as an intramural activity as early as the turn of the last century.  Tennis soon became one of the earliest of interscholastic sports enjoyed by the young ladies, but, while the boys were competing for their first state championship in tennis in 1920, the girls would have to wait until the great influx of sports to that level of competition during the 1970s before they, too, could shoot for a state championship trophy. 

The first state tournament for girls tennis was finally held in 1976, only the fourth sport in which the girls could hope to win a state championship.  The schools participating in girls tennis were divided into three divisions (Class A-AA-AAA) from 1976 to 1989, then just two (Div. I & Div. II) from 1990 to the present day. 

Columbus Bexley High School exploded onto the state tennis scene by capturing the combined Class A-AA girls singles and doubles championships in that first state tournament in 1976.  But Bexley was just getting started.  Led by Patti Schiff, who won the singles title, and the doubles team of Amy Weiffenbach and Lee Earl, the Lady Lions would also capture the A-AA state titles in both events in 1977 and 1978, with these same girls repeating as the championships each time.  Schiff would become one of only five girls to capture three singles titles, while the Weiffenbach-Earl duo is still the only doubles team to ever capture three state girls titles.

The big name in Class AAA in those earliest years of the tournament was Vicki Nelson of Wooster High School, who won three singles titles in 1977-78-79.  The other three-time girls singles champions are Sarah Brown, Rocky River High School (1988-89-90), Michelle DaCosta, Huber Heights Wayne (1997-99-00), and Audra Falk, Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy (1998-99-00).

However, Vicki  Nelsonís success at Wooster High School would prove to be the exception, rather than the rule, for players from schools in the northern half of the state.  Throughout the history of the girls state tennis tournament, the battle for supremacy has been dominated by schools from the central and southern areas of Ohio, especially those schools in the middle of the state around Columbus.  The high schools that have written their names most often on the championship trophies are Centerville (4 singles, 9 doubles), Cincinnati Indian Hill (5 singles, 5 doubles) and Columbus Bexley (5 singles, 5 doubles).  All of these titles were won before 1999.  Since then, the championships have been spread around a bit, and while they are inching ever farther north, especially to the Toledo area, the area around Columbus still seems to be the center, literally, of Ohioís girls tennis competition. 

On October 21, 1988, Andrea Farley of Cincinnati Indian Hills High School defeated Amanda Krantz of Orange High School, 6-0, 6-1, in the opening round of the state Class A-AA singles tournament.  The next day Ms. Farley defeated Michelle McMillen of East Palestine High School by scores of 6-1, 6-3, to win the Class A-AA state championship, putting herself into not only the state, but also the national, tennis record books.  By winning the 1988 A-AA singles championship, Ms. Farley became the only Ohio high school tennis player, boy or girl, to ever win four singles titles.  She is one of only about three dozen young ladies in the entire country to have ever accomplished this extraordinary feat. 

The tennis team from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Louisville, Ohio, wrote its name into the Ohio and national tennis record books with an accomplishment that will be tough to beat.  From 1989-1997 the Lady Knights won 128 dual meets, the longest such run of success in state history, and the fourth longest in the nation.  During that time span the Lady Knights also captured a pair of state championships.  In 1993, as a freshman, Celena McCoury won the Division II state singles title.  Ms. McCoury came back three years later to again take the singles title as a senior in 1996.

Vincent J. Romeo, Jr., is the most successful girls tennis coach in Ohio history.  In a coaching career that spanned 30 years, from 1971 to 2000, coach Romeo posted a record of 418-85, .831.  All but four of those years were spent at The Miami Valley School near Dayton.  Somewhat surprising is the fact that, in those 30 highly successful years, coach Romeo never enjoyed the thrill of seeing one of his girls become a state champion.  His win total is the third largest in the country.

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