By Jordan Miller
Sports Editor –
Oct. 12 was a day full of many emotions for the family of Taylor Fair, a Carrollton High School junior, who was competing in Division II of the district tennis tournament at Athens for a berth in the state tournament.
Family members from all over Ohio, along with community supporters, traveled to Athens to watch Fair as she attempted to make a return trip to the state event, scheduled this weekend near Cincinnati.
Fair got off to a strong start in her opening round.
Fair defeated Kendra Riner of Logan Elm, in two sets: 6-0, 6-0 at 10:45 a.m.
Fair took on Marietta’s Meredith Coil in the semifinal round. Fair defeated Coil in the district semifinal round last season 6-4, 6-2. Obviously no one thought this year’s match between Fair and Coil would last over two hours, but it did.
Fair was down 0-5 in the opening set of the match before winning a game, but Coil took the set 1-6.
If Coil had won another set, Fair would have been knocked out of the tournament and she knew it.
Fair found herself trailing 1-3 in the second set. That’s when she kicked it into gear and started to play the game she loves with a smile on her face.
Fair went on to win three straight games in the set and took her first lead of the match, 4-3.
Coil won the next game and tied the set at 4-4 before Fair won the final two sets, winning 6-4 and tying the match at one set apiece.
Fair came out on fire in the third set, jumping out to a 2-0 lead before Coil won a game, closing the gap to 2-1. Fair won the next three games in the set, leading 5-1 before Coil won two games. Fair went on to win the set 6-3 and won the match 2-1.
“When I was down in the first set I was very nervous that I wouldn’t be able to turn my game around,” said Fair. “Once my nerves were gone, I started to play my game and I felt confident that I could take it to three sets and come out with the victory.”
“During the first set against Coil, she (Taylor) was so nervous she was shaking,” said Greg Fair, Taylor’s father and coach. “She wasn’t playing as well as she could and the other girl was playing exceptionally well. We’ve seen that girl (Coil) play a couple of times, but this was the best we’ve ever seen her play.”
With the win, Fair clinched a berth in the state tournament and advanced to the district championship match against Unioto freshman Sylvia Gray, who hadn’t lost a match all season.
Gray played like it in the championship match, defeating Fair 1-6, 2-6 in two sets.
Fair’s three game wins was the first time all season an opponent won more than one game on Gray during a match.
“Returning to state has been my main goal since last year, and being out with an injury until the spring, I wasn’t sure it would happen,” Fair said. “I had to work extremely extra hard this summer to try to prepare myself for that type of pressure and now that I have qualified I am relieved that all of my hard work paid off.”
“The support from my community, both coming to support me and on social media, has really motivated me to get back to the level of play I know I’m capable of,” Fair said speaking of the Carrollton community. “I love to make my community proud. When I compete, the amount of support I receive is huge and it means a lot to me. I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me.”
Fair and 15 other Division II state qualifiers will travel to Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, OH to compete in the state tournament.
First and second round competition in Division II singles will take place Friday Oct. 21. Semifinals and finals are slated for Oct. 22.
At the 2015 state tournament, Fair lost one match shy of the semifinals, finishing in the final eight in the state.
“I would love to make it back to the final 8 or further,” Fair said. “As of now I do not know my draw or my opponents, but no matter who I play my goal is to play to my best ability and put up a fight.”
Fair will face Dayton Carroll’s Jillian Milano in the opening round of the tournament.