Springfield Shawnee’s Jitka Jemelkova. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Shawnee exchange student a net success in girls tennis

The junior at Shawnee High School has adjusted well during her visit to the United States, and perhaps no place better than with her Braves’ tennis family.

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“Food and people. That’s the most amazing things here,” said Jemelkova, who won the Division II sectional tournament singles championship last Saturday at Troy to qualify for district. “Olive Garden, then Red Lobster, Cracker Barrell. My host family (Phyllis and Raymond Monroe) of course.

“I like it here. We play a lot of matches, which is nice. We play after school and have a school team (which doesn’t exist in the Czech Republic). You have friends and an amazing coach.”

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Jemelkova is one of seven area plays competing at district. Northwestern qualified two doubles teams in D-II. Freshmen Leah Fraker and Macy Yeager enter as No. 3 seeds and seniors Leah Dotson and Allex Smith are No. 4 seeds. In D-I, Tecumseh senior Kayla Bush and freshman Olivia Walrath also advanced as No. 2 seeds.

Two wins are required to qualify for the state championships. That’s a tough task considering Mason, Cincinnati and Centerville are considered some of the best sectional sites in the state. Jemelkova has come this far, so what’s a few more miles returning to Mason for the state tournament?

“We’ll see,” Jemelkova said diplomatically. “I don’t want to say something … yes, of course I want to win. I’ll try my best.”

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Jemelkova said there are no school teams in the Czech Republic, also called Czechia. Among other differences in tennis between the two countries, she said players don’t call out the score before each serve and line calls can be challenging. She played on clay courts in the Czech Republic, which makes it easier for calls to be made with the cloud of dust.

Tecumseh’s Olivia Walrath (left) and Kayla Bush qualfied for the Division I district tennis tournament. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

“Once we worked out some jitters at the beginning of the season, we’ve been working a lot with her mental aspect of the game,” Shawnee coach Lori Driskill said. “Her strokes are very talented. … I’m very proud of her. She had some tough competition (during the first day of the sectional tournament) so I think that built up her confidence. I’m excited to see where it goes and what she can do after high school.”

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Jemelkova returns to the Czech Republic after this school year to finish her senior year. After that she hopes to earn a college scholarship and return to the United States.

“Now is to have fun,” Jemelkova said of her high school experience. “I just enjoy it here. It’s an amazing experience. I hope I’ll be back.”

As for Tecumseh’s Bush, her journey to reach Mason, a 50-mile trip, lasted four years. After coming one win away from qualifying for the D-I district tournament each of the past two seasons, Bush finally broke through.

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“It feels amazing. My goal this year was to get to district,” said Bush, who clicked with Walrath for a formidable doubles team. “Having fun is one of the key things to me playing tennis. When I met Olivia I was so happy because I was like, ‘Hey, want to play doubles?’ She said, ‘Yeah, sure.’ ”

“The level of competition down there … we don’t see anything like that around here,” Tecumseh coach Mike Crago said. “It’ll be a cool experience, especially for Kayla. It’ll be a fun experience to go down and play on the pro courts.”

• Draws for the boys and girls cross country, boys and girls soccer and girls volleyball postseasons were held this past Sunday.

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Beavercreek (D-I, 10-1-3), Tippecanoe (D-II, 14-0-1) and Botkins (D-III, 12-0-2) all were chosen as No. 1 boys soccer sectional seeds. Among girls soccer, Beavercreek (D-I, 15-0-0), Alter (D-II, 13-1-1), Tippecanoe (D-II, 8-3-3) and Lehman Catholic (D-III, 12-1-1) were top seeded.

No. 1 girls volleyball sectional seeds were Centerville (D-I, 16-4), Tippecanoe (D-II, 20-1), Fenwick (D-II, 19-1), Miami East (D-III, 13-7) and Fort Loramie (D-IV, 19-2).

The soccer and volleyball sectionals begin on Monday. District cross country is Saturday, Oct. 19.

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• Boys (Divisions II and III) and girls (D-II) state golf tournaments are Friday and Saturday. Boys D-II will be held at NorthStar Golf Club in Sunbury and boys D-III at the Ohio State Scarlet Course in Columbus. The girls D-II state will be at OSU’s Gray Course.

Oakwood and Alter advanced among boys D-II teams. Fort Loramie, Minster and Botkins will shoot for the boys D-III team title. Alter, St. Henry and Benjamin Logan will contend for the girls D-II state title.

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The boys and girls D-I district golf tournaments are this week. Jordan Gilkison of Springboro (69) was medalist in D-I boys district golf at Glenview Golf Course on Tuesday. Joining him in qualifying to D-I state as boys individuals were runner-up Eric Cherubini of Centerville (70) and Shane Ochs of Carroll (71).

The girls D-I district golf is Thursday at Beavercreek Golf Course.

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