MASON — After winning the first game, Wilmington’s Claire Burns lost 12 of the next 14 games Friday at the OHSAA Division I Girls Tennis Championship at the Lindner Family Tennis Center.
The first Clinton County student to earn a berth in the OHSAA Girls State Tennis Championship, Burns was defeated by North Canton Hoover’s Tess Bucher 1-6, 2-6 in the opening round.
“I’m not disappointed,” WHS head coach Doug Cooper said. “She came here and played well. She lost to probably a little bit better player.”
Bucher went on to post a 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 win over Ella Franz of Delaware Olentangy Berlin in the second round to advance to the semifinal round. She’ll finish in the top four. She’ll next face Elizabeth Pendergast of St. Ursula Academy, who defeated Burns last week in the district tournament.
Burns trailed 0-30 in the first game of the tournament but rallied to hold serve and go up 1-0.
Bucher, a talkative freshman, never allowed Burns to get on a roll after that. She broke Burns’ serve three times the rest of the first set and cruised to a 6-1 win.
Burns found some life, though, in the second set. She broke Bucher in the third game and led 2-1. The NCH talent was given a warning by the on-court official for being a bit too demonstrative. That, as it turns out, seemed to settle Bucher down the rest of the match.
“The second set was a really tug of war for momentum,” said Cooper. “(Burns) had (Bucher) on the ropes early in the second set but she was able to compose herself and get back in the match. Against the players at this level, you don’t have any margin for error.”
Burns lost the next five games and the match. She walked off the court as she walked on, composed and congenial.
Now, Burns must find a way to return to the state and make a bid for a state championship. Cooper believes his standout singles player is on the right track.
“She just needs to stay on the continuum she’s on,” he said. “She’s shown constant growth as a player, all the years I’ve been associated with her.“