Merrill’s Olivia Heitz unequivocally showed she deserved her inclusion into the WIAA State Tennis Meet as a special selection last week.
In the opening round of #1 singles, Heitz knocked off a competitor that had earned a spot, and she did it in 6-4, 6-3 straight sets over Plymouth’s 12-4 Elizabeth Raeder.
“Olivia played a solid match and was so excited to win that opening round match,” MHS coach Jennifer Heitz said. “That was what she had her heart set on. She wanted to not only win that match for herself, but, more importantly, for her team. She did a great job preparing mentally for that match and battling her nerves.
“Olivia was the first match to go out on court 1. She won the first game, and then dropped the next 3 games. Both girls battled some nerves early on, but then Olivia relaxed and settled into her game plan, hitting solid forehands and backhands, and putting consistent pace on her serves and ground strokes.”
Unfortunately, that first-round win just set the stage for a match with the tourney’s #1 seed and two-time defending state champion, 26-1 Aly Coran, of Homestead. Coran bumped Heitz from the tourney in a 6-0, 6-0 match.
“Olivia felt much less pressure entering her match on Friday,” Heitz said. “She knew it would be an extremely tough match and she just wanted to go out, do her best, and to win as many points as possible.
“She was very excited to play a girl of this caliber, because opportunities like this don’t come along every day. Aly will be a D1 recruit and hopes to play tennis for Harvard or Michigan. Olivia played very well, and was positive at the end of the match because she won points every game, and hit the ball with power and control. She had hoped to win at least one game, though, but Aly had great placement on her shots, and is just an excellent all around player without any apparent weaknesses.”
The meet wrapped up a super-successful season for the MHS team. The Jays placed second in the Valley with a 5-1 mark and posted a 15-4 dual record overall with three 4-3 losses.
“When Olivia and I talked after the tournament, she said how much fun she had, and ‘how playing in and watching the tournament inspired her to work even harder for next year,'” Heitz said. “She would love to advance further in the tournament! She said she was happy to represent her team there, and she ‘hopes that more of her teammates can get to state next season…maybe even the whole team to the team championships!'”