Friday, December 9, 2022

West Geauga’s Rylie Hanford wins district title

West Geauga freshman Rylie Hanford won the Division II Akron District title and will compete in the state tournament in Mason on Oct. 19-20.

“This is all so exciting and new to me,” Hanford said. “I have enjoyed playing as a part of a high school team as a break from the typical (United States Tennis Association) format where it’s just you out there. I’m really excited to get to play down in Mason and will be ready to compete as hard as I can.”

Hanford defeated Orange’s Blessing Nwaozuzu in the championship match for the second straight week. She defeated Nwaozuzu in three sets in the Hawken sectional championship match and again needed three sets to win the district title.

She beat Nwaozuzu 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in the district final.

“I train with Blessing all year around as we are both in the same junior program at Cleveland Racquet Club,” Hanford said. “We also play practice sets with each other almost every week. We’ve split sets twice now in the last two weeks because we both seem to raise each other’s level of play and enjoy playing against each other, especially because we both like to hit hard.”

Hanford opened the district tournament with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Fairview’s Lauryn Leslie then beat Canton South’s Destiny Winans in the quarterfinals, 6-1, 6-1.

She advanced to the championship match with a 7-6, 6-1 win over Laurel’s Rachel Buchinsky.

“Rylie had a tough opening set in the semifinal, but pulled through in a tiebreaker before cruising in the second set to advance to the final,” said West Geauga assistant coach Shaun Spence. “The final was against a very familiar opponent from Orange, Blessing. The two had played a three-set match the week prior in the final at the Hawken sectional. Today’s match was incredibly physical and Rylie persevered with her strong and consistent game. She grinded out some difficult shots and found ways to turn defense into offense all match against Blessing. For just a freshman to accomplish what she has, Rylie is such a special player.”

The state tournament will be played at the Lindner Family Tennis Center beginning on Friday.

“I am really excited about states,” Hanford said. “I know that I’ll be a bit nervous and that there is a lot of pressure in this tournament. However, that’s what makes it fun and I’m pumped to get to play in a great tournament.”

Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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