0921 county tennis 10

WARREN DILLAWAY | Star Beacon Lakeside's Kait Toth serves on Saturday during first singles action with St. John's Julianne Sheldon at the Ashtabula County Girls Tennis Tournament at St. John.

Toth upsets Sheldon, Geneva takes team title at All-County meet

Kait Toth proved for nearly two hours she could go set for set with returning co-county player of the year Julianne Sheldon. 

Now, she just had to score one final point in the tie breaker to take the All-County title. She hit a powerful strike down Sheldon’s left side to take the 14-12 win in the tiebreaker.

“[The key was] not going for too much, keeping the ball within the constraints of the court and giving myself margin for error more,” Toth said.  

Toth finished third earlier this season during a preseason that allowed county teams to play each other when the season was still uncertain.  

“[The difference was] honestly, mentally getting into it more,” Toth said. “Not getting in my head thinking I’m going to mess up as much, and really just trusting myself to play the points how I know I can.” 

On Saturday, took the first game 6-4 using the right amount of power and precision. 

“Typically, I’ll only go for power when I know I have a good shot, and I know I have a good setup,” Toth said. “When I mess up it’s when I don’t have the perfect setup, and I’m hitting the ball too high or too low.” 

But Sheldon dominated the next game, leading 5-1 at one point before taking it 6-2. She appeared to have the momentum heading into the tiebreaker. However, Toth composed herself. 

“The second [game] I got a little bit more nervous, and I wasn’t trusting myself as much,” Toth said. “When it was like 5-2, I knew I was gonna lose the second [game] so I just saved it all for the tiebreaker.”  

Toth opened the first to 10 tiebreaker with a 4-0 lead. Later, some nice serves and pressure applied by Sheldon made it 9-9. Then she took the lead 12-11. 

It looked like Sheldon would capture the county title, as Toth served into the net on her first attempt. She took some power off and got it over the net to avoid giving up the game point. Eventually a Sheldon return went long to knot it at 12-12. 

Another long volley by Sheldon was long, which setup the powerful strike to the left, ultimately giving Toth the win.

Geneva snapped St. John’s three-year all-county meet win streak with an impressive overall showing. The Eagles had 26 points.“Pool play is tough, and it’s only one set,” Geneva coach Scott Torok said. “We talked about the scenario and what we needed to do. The seeding went according to plan. We needed to get by Lakeside and get into the championship round, and we did that in four of the five flights.”

Though the season has been odd, Torok and the Eagles strived for the county title from the beginning. Now they are chasing a Chagrin Valley Conference title and eventually, hope to advance to districts later in the season.

“We’re gonna pair up some of our singles players and find some magic and make that happen,” Torok said.

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