By Dave Ricci
Special to The News
There’s nothing like taking a road trip with friends. Especially when a state championship is in reach.
It was a clean sweep for Orchard Park as Madigan Humiston, and her Lady Quaker teammates Lauren Karoglan and Zoe Watson captured the titles at the Section VI girls tennis championships that were held at the Miller Tennis Center on Saturday.
Humiston beat Paige Szymusiak of Lancaster, 6-2, 6-2, to win the Section VI singles title.
While Karoglan and Watson downed the Cinderella duo of Maddie Collins and Elise Swanson of Maple Grove, 6-1, 6-1, to claim the doubles championship.
This vaults the OP trio into the NYSPHSAA Championships that will be held next weekend in Latham (Albany area).
“It’s really, really, really exciting for us,” Humiston said, moments after her win.
“We worked really, really hard this year and we really deserved it and we did a great job.
Humiston, who was the top seed, spoke of the satisfaction of winning sectionals after finishing in second place last year.
“My goal was to win the section this year and I worked really hard playing tournaments outside of high school and working hard in high school,” Humiston said. “So it’s a good relief and a good feeling to win.”
Humiston beat Southwestern’s Mikayla Johnson 6-1, 6-0 in the semis, but had an extended wait as Szymusiak needed three sets to beat Madeleine Eiss of Clarence in the other semifinal match.
Karoglan and Watson faced the same situation of waiting for their opponents, as Collins and Swanson upset Caroline Bolton and Chloe Esch (Clarence) in an epic three-set battle: 5-7, 6-4 and 6-4.
Their second-place finish makes Collins and Swanson the first girls in the history of Maple Grove tennis to qualify for states.
“I think it’ll sink in more when we actually get back to school and everyone is like ‘oh my God you’re going to states!’ ” Collins said.
“And they’ll do the send off. It’s just amazing.”
It was back-to-back sectional titles for Lauren Karoglan, who won sectionals last year with previous partner Kristen Zablonski before taking third place at states.”
“(Zoe and I) mesh pretty well together,” Karoglan said.
“We practice together a lot. We play well together.”
This marks the fourth year in a row Karoglan has qualified for states while Humiston is making her second consecutive trip.
For Zoe Watson, having veteran teammates and friends by her side will make her first trip to states even more special.
“I think it’s really cool,” Watson said. “I’ve never done anything like this.”
Bolton and Esch, and Eiss also earned trips to states by virtue of winning consolation brackets. Szymusiak also qualified for states.