Lakeview tennis rallying as one

The Lakeview Bulldogs girls tennis team is a tight-knit group. In fact, the entire varsity team will be at today’s Division II district tournament at Akron’s Springside Racquet and Fitness Club.

Three members of the team look to advance to state next weekend, while the rest of the Bulldogs will be in the stands cheering on their teammates, much like they did at the sectional tournament in Boardman. According to first-year coach Elisabeth Wilson, while it may be unusual for the whole team to show up for the event, it should come as no surprise based on how close her team has become.

“This year, we have a very cohesive team,” Wilson said. “I’m very proud of the entire team, and especially those three (players in districts). Whatever happens in districts, I’m just so proud of them.”

The three, Laura and Anna Garvin, plus, Lauren Paczak, give Lakeview multiple chances to have representatives in this year’s Division II state tournament. Laura, who’s just a freshman, plays in the singles tournament, while sister Anna and Paczak play in doubles.

According to Wilson, Laura is the first freshman in school history to ever qualify for districts in singles competition. Laura, who will face Canton Central Catholic’s Jenna Belot, has been a United States Tennis Association player for years and had a 9-2 record as a singles player in 2016.

“She’s our No. 3 singles player, which shows you that my singles players were strong this year,” Wilson said. “Her all-around game is strong and she’s a very powerful hitter. She’s improved most on her footwork.”

While the younger Garvin is a pretty impressive player, Anna isn’t too shabby herself. The junior was Lakeview’s No. 2 singles player during the year and is making her second trip back to districts with Paczak.

What makes Anna stand out is the details of her game.

“Anna’s the perfectionist of the team,” Wilson said, laughing. “She works really hard at her game, and she’s another one of our hard hitters. Her greatest growth is that she’s become a real force at the net.”

For the Garvin sisters, this year’s trip to districts is an opportunity to make their late father, Chris, proud. On Sept. 9, 2015, the Garvin’s father passed away, and while it’s been more than a year since his passing, the effects are still there.

Wilson, who said she cancelled the match that was supposed to be held on the one-year anniversary of his death, earlier this season, said the sisters still wanted to play the match, showing their dedication to the sport that their father got them started in many years ago.

“At sectionals, we wore his initials on our uniforms,” Wilson said. “I believe that they still feel in their hearts that they’re playing for their dad. I think it makes them better, stronger players.”

While the Garvin sisters will be playing for a loved one, Paczak will be looking for an opportunity to breakthrough to state, as she has now qualified for districts all four years of her storied career.

A year ago, her and Anna Garvin were the third seed coming out of their sectional, while this year, they’ve improved upon that by being the No. 2 qualifier after the Boardman sectional this year. What makes Paczak, the team’s No. 1 singles player, so special is her influence on the rest of the team, according to Wilson.

“Lauren is just a solid player and is a great asset to our team,” Wilson explained. “She’s a great role model for the other players, on and off the court. She’s the one that sets the tone and gets the others pumped up and ready to go.”

The pair face Rachel Buchinsky and Victoria Vasquez of Laurel in the first round of districts, and just like Laura Garvin in singles, the pair will need to win two matches to advance to state, next week in Mason.

History has a way of repeating itself, and it’s likely a safe bet to assume that the rest of the Lakeview Bulldog tennis team will be down in Mason to cheer on their teammate(s) if someone should advance past Akron.