Bitburg wins Division II tennis title
WIESBADEN-NORDENSTADT, Germany — A second-place finish by Bitburg’s Brittany Garcia made the difference Friday as the Barons won the team title in the European Division II high school tennis tournament.
Bitburg won both of the boys titles and AFNORTH’s girls won the singles and doubles titles, but the points Garcia — Bitburg’s No. 2 singles player — earned propelled Bitburg over AFNORTH 19-16 in the team competition.
The singles titles won by Jordan Matthews of Bitburg and Jessica Blaesche of AFNORTH, and the doubles crowns won by Bitburg’s Erik Martz and John Pendergrass and AFNORTH’s Julia Blaesche and Eastan Higbee — all No.1 seeds — came as no surprise.
So when Garcia defeated Mannheim’s Laura Voigtsberger 6-0, 6-2, and Bitburg’s No. 1, Ashley Weston, turned back Kyra Fromemke of SHAPE 6-0, 6-2 to set up an all-Bitburg semifinal, the Barons were assured of second place.
Garcia defeated Weston 6-4, 6-3 to earn the dubious honor of facing Blaesche in the final. She fell at love, but the team trophy was on its way to Bitburg.
Although the No. 1s came through, AFNORTH’s duo of freshman Julia Blaesche and senior Eastan Higbee, following a first-round bye, struggled to a 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-3) semifinal victory against Bitburg’s Ashley Fary and Nicole Fisher.
“We didn’t play up to our potential,” Higbee said. “When you’re used to practicing against Jessica and Julia and Javier [Boixareu, AFNORTH’s fourth-seeded boy] in practice, you’re so used to hitting against hard stuff that it’s hard to adjust to something different.”
Higbee and the younger Blaesche got their timing down in the final, beating Mannheim’s Crystal Merkes and Tina Weekly, the No. 3 seeds, 6-2, 6-4.
The timing couldn’t have been better for Matthews, who nailed down the No. 1 seed for next week’s European tournament with Friday’s victory.
“I played well in the first game [6-0, 6-0 over Hanau No. 2 Zack Hilliker] and I played the game of my life against the Hanau kid [6-1, 6-0 over No. 2 seed Devin Hayes, Hanau’s No. 1, in the title match],” Matthews said. “Being No. 1 for next weekend [the European individual championships] is a huge confidence booster.”
The elder Blaesche, the defending European champion who earned her second straight Division II singles crown, won all three of her matches Friday at love. Untested during the tournament, she spent the rest of the afternoon volleying with the courageous Mathews, who risked embarrassment in hitting against the power-hitting Blaesche.
“She’s my hero,” Matthews said. “I hung in there, but she’s great. It’s fun to hit against people who put lots of pace on the ball.”
Pendergrass and Martz, who began playing together this season, defeated SHAPE’s Lanny Mason and Dimitrious Tsiakalos 6-0, 6-2 for the title.
The two lost games in the final were the Bitburg champs’ only losses of the day.
The European Division III titles are on the line here Friday, beginning at 9 a.m. High school tennis wraps up here this Friday and Saturday, Oct. 18, with the European championships.