BOARDMAN - Lakeview coach Stephanie Hickey has a way of preparing players for the postseason.
Wednesday, freshmen Bulldogs Lauren Paczak and Carlie Stein worked their mojo and got out of this year's Division II sectional tournament.
The Lakeview pair beat fourth-seeded Jai'Lyn Mosley and Tory Ross of McDonald in a fourth-round matchup, 6-2, 6-2, to take the final district qualifying spot.
Wednesday's fourth-round winners advance to the semifinals and finals Saturday morning at Boardman High School, starting at 9 a.m. There, the athletes will be playing for seeding in next week's district tournament in Canton.
"I stressed all week, one game at a time, one set at a time, one match at a time," said Hickey, who was with her singles players at Boardman High School. "I want them to play in the moment. We don't worry about it. We're not going to worry about what happens if we win, if we lose. We wanted them to play in the present, in the moment. I'm hoping that really helped them today. I think it did. You can never look ahead in tennis. I want them to stay focused and do what they need to take care of at that time. That was our theme all week with my singles and doubles - just play in the moment."
Lakeview assistant coach Joe Teffner, who was with the doubles teams at Volney Rogers Courts in the Mill Creek MetroParks, said the two freshmen shook off any early nerves and settled down.
"They remembered everything we worked on throughout the year and how we wanted them to play aggressive doubles, attacking and things like that," Teffner said. "Then, it started clicking. Then, it's like, 'Oh, confidence builds and this does work.' I said on one of the changeovers, when we're playing aggressive doubles, 'It's a lot more fun.' They said, 'Oh yea,' and kept going and going."
Cardinal Mooney's team kept their great season rolling as it qualified its first- and second-seeded doubles teams of Jamie DiDomenico and Dominique Cicchi and Lexie Kleeh and Lizzie Matthews. Poland's Cara Palusak and Audrey Schweers, the third seed, also advanced.
"We all earned it because we practiced really hard. It will be pretty cool having everyone there," said Mooney's No. 1 singles player Kacey Haggerty and the top-seeded singles player.
Haggerty beat West Branch's Megan Winters in a fourth-round matchup to advance to districts, 6-0, 6-1.
Teammate Gianna Reider, the third seed, also moved on with her fourth-round defeat of Struthers' Kara Thompson, 6-3, 6-1.
Poland's Elise Eckman, the second seed, beat John F. Kennedy's Maria Stroup in a fourth-round matchup, 6-2, 6-0.
That leaves Mooney's Hallie Yerian, who was unseeded, playing the final fourth-round matchup against unseeded Emily Eckman of Poland today at 4 p.m., back at Boardman. The match had to be played today because both players played the maximum of three matches set forth by the Ohio High School Athletic Association. Eckman beat fourth-seeded Ashley Kirila of Brookfield earlier in the day.
As for Lakeview's Paczak and Stein, they won their way into districts. It's not the first time an unseeded Lakeview pair has made it out of sectionals.
Lakeview's Eric Rohrabaugh and Zach Teffner were unseeded in the boys sectional last spring and advanced to the district level.
"Being unseeded, it's nice you don't have the pressure," Hickey said. "We had two freshmen in their first sectional tournament. Coach (Joe) Teffner and I came up with a really great game plan this week. They implemented everything we needed them to do. We're proud of them how they handled the pressure, their nerves. Their attitude was excellent on the court."
NOTE: In the other fourth-round doubles matchups: DiDomenico-Cicchi def. Danielle Mendenhall-Delaney Saban (Niles), 6-0, 6-0; Kleeh-Matthews def. Megan Carnahan-Claire Rowlands (Lakeview), 6-2, 6-0; Palusak-Schweers def. Rachel Pinti-Gina Biviano (John F. Kennedy), 6-3, 6-4.
DIVISION I SECTIONAL: The fourth-round singles and doubles at the Division I tournament in Canton will be played today. The semifinals and finals are Saturday.