By Tim Glon
MIAMISBURG — Ohio Northern advanced to the finals of the 2018 Ohio Athletic Conference Women's Tennis Tournament with a thrilling 5-4 semifinals victory over Otterbein on Friday at the South Regency Tennis Center.
The second-seeded Polar Bears (19-6) advance to Saturday's finals to face top-seeded John Carroll at 10 am at the Lindner Tennis Center.
The third-seeded Cardinals end their season with a 15-6 record.
Both teams entered the match expecting a tight battle as the regular season contest went to ONU by a 5-4 score.
With the score knotted at 4-all, sophomore Mackenzie Wills (Ada) edged Otterbein's Jordan Traxler in a terrific match at No. 6 singles 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(5) to win the contest for ONU.
Wills served for the match ahead 5-4 and again at 6-5, but both times Traxler broke serve to tie it at 5-5 and 6-6.
In the 7-point tiebreaker, Wills raced to a 5-1 lead only to see Traxler again tie the match at 5-all with four consecutive points of her own.
Wills was finally able to win the match on her third match point, scoring the final two points to win the tiebreaker 7-5.
"Our ladies had a real gutsy performance today against a strong, well coached Otterbein team," ONU head coach Scott Wills said. "Our focus was on keeping in the moment and playing focused, hustling Polar Bear tennis. That was the key to coming back in singles after the early 2-1 doubles deficit."
The Cardinals opened the match strong, winning 8-5 at No. 3 doubles and 8-3 at No. 1 doubles to go up 2-0.
Wills and senior Lynn Kelly (Mason) got ONU on the board with an 8-5 win at No. 2 doubles.
Kelly tied it at 2-2 with an impressive 6-0, 6-0 win at No. 2 singles.
Freshman Sabine Worthoff (West Chester/Mount Notre Dame) won 6-1, 6-1 at No. 3 singles to make it 3-2 and junior Ashley Ochsenhirt (Birmingham, Ala./Briarwood Christian) won 7-5, 6-3 at No. 1 singles and Northern led 4-2.
Otterbein got a 6-4, 7-6(5) win at No. 4 singles and a 6-2, 1-6, 6-1 win at No. 5 singles to tie the match at 4-all, setting up the exciting finish at No. 6 singles.