Waite edges out Woodward to win the City League

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

If not for the slightest change, the Waite Indians wouldn’t have won the City League tennis championship.
Waite finished with 31 points in the league tournament, one point ahead of Woodward, which had 30 points.
First place gets seven points, second place earns six points and third place is good for five points.
Leading the way was the CL Player of the Year, Olivia VanSickle, who went undefeated in the conference and won the league title at No. 1 singles. She, along with No. 2 singles player, Ariana Dunnagan, and No. 3 singles player, Ilianah Moctezuma-Vargas, also went undefeated in the City League.
The coach, Justin Carmack, talked about what makes the singles players so special, starting with VanSickle.
“Olivia got so good during the offseason. She beat Springfield’s best player twice this year,” said Carmack, who works at Garfield Elementary School in Toledo. “We had open courts throughout the season, and the biggest thing was, last year was her first year playing tennis. Olivia was a doubles player last year, and she went undefeated all season. She also plays basketball and runs track. She’s a natural athlete. She ran track to stay in shape and she said she did not want to lose her competitive spirit.”
On a side note, VanSickle also defeated Springfield’s top player, and the team beat Notre Dame Academy’s freshmen team.
Carmack also had high praise for Dunnagan and Moctezuma-Vargas, both of whom went undefeated in the CL. “Ariana is our captain, the heartbeat of the team. We’ve had her for four years. She’s the leader when I’m not there,” he said. “She finishes her match and then is a coach or cheerleader for the other girls. She would go up to girls and make sure they stretch and stay hydrated. When you think of a captain, that was here to a T. She’s going to give it her all.
“Ilianah is in her third year playing, and she’s only ever played doubles before. She was a very coachable person. Working with her and transitioning from doubles to singles, the court gets cut by (about) a third. You move your opponent around; she worked on that all year, and that was the biggest thing. She was doing that and moving the opponents around and finding a weakness and attacking.”
The doubles teams of DeJeana Lacy and Myonna Lacy, who are sisters, were the difference at No. 1. The No. 2 doubles team of two cousins, Alye’Jah Wadley and Cliciney Onyango-Doria. Both finished third after being upset in the semifinals.
“My doubles players won us the title. After the upset in the semis, we told the girls, the tournament is not over, you have to win the next match for us to win (the league title). At second-doubles, they came back to get third place. It was an awesome accomplishment.
Carmack talked about the pressure of being the favorite at the beginning of the season.
“We made it a lot tougher than we had to. We were the clear favorite, and I returned the whole team, except for my No. 1 player, who did not come back. We kind of had a target on our back. We had the target, but I didn’t know how good we were going to be,” he said. “Once we got to the tournament, it was one of those things where the three singles players were all the top seeds, and the other coaches knew how good they were. My girls had fairly easy matches into the finals, but once we got into the finals, they kicked it up a notch.”
Carmack knew that for his team to achieve great things, he would have to push them.
“The one thing that I guess I would say is winning the league was a goal we set in August. ‘What do you see as the end of the year? Let’s get a championship.’ I told them, ‘If you want that, you’re going to see a different coach,’” said Carmack. “’I’m going to push you, give you criticism that you might not want to hear.’ When we won the tournament, the look on their eyes, the tears (were profound). The banner will be there in the gym, and they can come back in 20 years and see that. They said, ‘There were times when you were pushing us too hard, and now it’s worth it.’ The girls deserve the credit.”


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