PDT Sports Writer
PLAIN CITY — In the end, she left with hardware and a blueprint for the future.
Portsmouth junior Ali Miller reached another milestone in the Trojan girls tennis program Saturday as she finished fourth in the Division II State Tennis Tournament, the highest-ever placing in school history. Miller made it to the second day of action for the first time in three tries.
“I’m really proud of myself, this is what I’ve been striving to do,” Miller said. “There’s nothing else I can say. I’m happy either way…there’s no shame in losing today.”
With the second day originally slated to play at Hilliard Davidson High School, all tennis action was moved to the Elysium Tennis Center because overnight weather made cleanup too much of an issue before any matches could start. It was the same site where Miller finished action Friday.
In her first match of the day, Miller fell 6-1, 6-1 to Columbus Bishop Hartley’s Rachel Morales. Although the score told one story, Portsmouth coach Amy Keating felt her pupil held her own.
“(It was) deuce constantly, it was very close (but) it was one little misstep here or there,” Keating said. “There were major long rallies.”
In the consolation match, Miller went up against a familiar foe in Millersburg West Holmes’ Rachel Nelson. The senior won the all of the previous meetings and was the defending state champion.
Despite committing 10 double faults, Nelson took the first set 7-6 with a 7-5 tiebreak. Ironically, Miller recorded double faults to concede the first game as well as the tiebreaker. Nelson won three games where she broke Miller’s service.
In the second set, Nelson raced out to a 3-0 lead before Miller captured the fourth game played. She would win one more game before Nelson closed it out 6-2 and took the third place finish. In her four years, Nelson finished fourth, second, first and third in the state.
“She’s a great player, she’s a great friend and we get along great off the court,” Miller said. “I’m real proud of her, she played great and she played better than I did today.”
The win over Miller proved to be an omen for Morales as she became the third person in as many years to eliminate Miller and eventually win the state championship. Morales defeated Columbus St. Francis DeSales’ My Linh Li 6-0, 6-2. Li had previously defeated Nelson 6-4, 6-4.
As one final season is now on Miller’s schedule, she knows what it takes to make the next step.
“I needed to play in big situations like this and I have it now,” Miller said. “I honestly feel there’s nothing stopping me from grabbing a title next year.”
Keating was pleased with how Miller finished the tournament.
“She did a fantastic job this whole entire tournament, coming out and we cannot in any way be anything but proud of her for that,” Keating said. “She’s playing well, she has diversified her game, she’s playing tennis with such maturity and we’re extremely proud of what she’s done.”
In another event with regional interest, the Chesapeake duo of Meili and Minda Martin finished fourth in Division II doubles action. They lost 6-2, 6-4 to eventual champion Columbus Academy and 7-6 (7-4), 6-1 to Dayton Chaminade Julienne in the consolation match.
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 242, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Division II State Tennis Tournament
Rachel Morales (CBH) def. Ali Miller (P) 6-1, 6-1
My Linh Li (CSFD) def. Rachel Nelson (MWH) 6-4, 6-4.
Morales def. Li 6-0, 6-2
Nelson def. Miller 7-6 (7-5), 6-2