AW Girls Tennis Wraps Up Second Incredible Season

Nine seniors wrapped up a successful season with back-to-back district titles. They included (from left) front row, Alyssa Baburek, team manager Maisy Pack, Hailey Brass and Audrey Smucker and back row, Ally Roberts, Lilly Black, Eden Sample, Mia Rettig, Ella Becker and Elizabeth Parsells.

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — With back-to-back Northern Lakes League championships, a No. 4 state ranking and an overall 14-2 record, the Anthony Wayne girls tennis team just wrapped up an incredible season.

“You girls rocked. Nobody’s got anything on us,” said AW coach Jim Sutto as he welcomed the girls and family members to last week’s awards ceremony.

Including tournaments, the varsity team had a record of 33-2, including the thrill of beating St. Ursula 5-0, Perrysburg 5-0 twice and Notre Dame so badly that they quit in the middle of a match, he said, garnering cheers.

Along with assistant coach Gemma Smith and volunteer coaches Jill Feltner and Mike Black, Sutto recognized each one of the varsity, JV and freshman players for their accomplishments this year.

The varsity team included Lilly Black, Mara Boyd, Emily Szul, Ally Roberts, Alyssa Baburek, Mia Rettig, Mallory Rettig, Hailey Brass, Harper Clifton, Karly Crandall, Elizabeth Parsells, Ella Becker, Audrey Smucker and Eden Sample.

Lilly Black, who signed last week to play for the University of Cincinnati, received Sutto’s Greatest of All Time (GOAT) Award. During her high school career, Lilly earned two third-place and one second-place ranking in the state in singles, was named an All-Ohio player for three years and holds all four AW tennis records. Overall, she’s won 124 matches in three years.

“She is the one that kept my job so much easier,” Sutto said, adding that Lilly continuously worked to improve while helping other girls with what they needed. 

Lilly credits the entire team for its hard work in making this season successful.

She and freshman Mara Boyd earned the first team district title this year. Mara was given Sutto’s Sportsmanship Award in recognition of how she treats not just her teammates but also her opponents.

“She’s only the second player in AW history to qualify for the state tournament and she did it as a freshman,” Sutto said, acknowledging her 24-7 record. 

“I don’t know all the school records you broke as a freshman, but I guarantee you broke a few,” Sutto said to Boyd. “No freshman has had a year like you’ve had.”

Mia Rettig was given the Most Improved Award for pulling out 10 wins and earning district honorable mention.

Ally Roberts and Alyssa Baburek were honored with Coaches Awards for always being around and involved. Ally had a 24-4 record and was district honorable mention, while Alyssa had a 24-4 record and was a runner-up at NLL first doubles.

Sutto recognized each one of the varsity team members for their gifts. Sophomore Harper Clifton pulled off three wins to put the team in the top seven.

“The forehand you have is massive,” Sutto said to Harper. “You’re someone we’re going to reload with next year.”

Sophomore Mallory Rettig is a dual-sport superstar, going back and forth from volleyball to tennis. She has a 15-2 record and was a second doubles NLL champion. 

Teammate Emily Szul had a 24-4 record and was a third singles NLL champion. Sutto described Emily as tough.

“She’s the girl that nobody wanted to play at third singles,” Sutto said, laughing.

Junior Karly Crandall picked up three of the top seven wins for the team and will step up next year in a starting role. 

Hailey Brass was all-district honorable mention. A leftie, she put in a lot of work, Sutto said.

Audrey Smucker, Eden Sample, Ella Baker and Elizabeth Parsells are the “unsung heroes” of the team, Sutto said, noting that the seniors were always at practice early and pushing the starters every day. 

“When we put you in, you won. If you’d been at any other school, you would have been starters. You’re all incredible tennis players who made things fun,” he said.

Every senior was named to the NLL all-academic team and seven starters made the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association academic team.

“Seniors – what a run it’s been,” Sutto said. “What you all had in common was that drive, something we as coaches can’t help you with. Two years ago, we knew the 2022 class would be good because of the work you put in during the offseason. And you’re all like best friends – you get along so well.”

With new teams coming to the NLL next year, Sutto encouraged the girls to work in the offseason to get ready. 

Lila Hippert was given the Most Improved Award for the junior varsity team, but all the players have shown incredible improvement over the season, Sutto said. 

This also includes KaiYing Buskirk, Claire Cousino, Noelle Feltner, Nadia Feltner, Liz Hemmert, Lauren Huffman, Cristina Jimenez, Alessia Morante, Macy Neeb, Eva Schadewald, Morgan Bowie, Anya Kakrecha, Charlotte Keating, Vlada Morozova, Ruby Rapp and Hadley Worland. 

Volunteer coach Mike Black thanked the parents and others for their support, including retired tennis coach Jerry Reed, photographer Kevin Finnigan and Sutto, who always keeps the tone light and positive, Black said.

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