Sara Ohlman’s quick rise in the girls tennis ranks was completed Thursday with a strong performance in the Illinois High School Association state final.


Sara Ohlman’s quick rise in the girls tennis ranks was completed Thursday with a strong performance in the Illinois High School Association state final.

The Washington senior won two of four singles matches in the Chicago suburbs, showing her talents transformed well on a statewide stage.

“I was very pleased,” said WCHS head coach Jim Witt about Ohlman’s showing. “It’s tough to win at state.”

The Lady Panther began with a 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 first-round victory over Ashley Lynch of Lawrenceville.

“She had the attitude she knew she was going to win her first match,” said Witt.

Witt noted opposing coaches said Ohlman played a smart game, mixing speeds and serving effectively.

Ohlman lost in the second round, 0-6, 0-6, to Barrington’s Kristy Dodge.

Dodge went on to place fourth overall in the tournament Saturday.

Ohlman bounced back with a 6-2, 6-4 win in the second round of consolation play over Beth Hughes of Cary-Grove.

The Washington netter was eliminated with a 1-6, 1-6 setback to Downers Grove North’s Claire McNulty.

Ohlman, a first-team all-Mid-Illini Conference selection, finished 26-8 in singles and 12-3 in doubles.

Playing from the No. 1 position in both formats, Ohlman’s 26 singles wins were the most since Witt returned to coaching.

From the top post, Ohlman saw the best players the area had to offer.

Ohlman has only played competitive tennis since August of last year.

“Where she ended up is pretty remarkable,” said Witt of Ohlman’s huge climb in the sport that was made possible by hard work.

Jennifer Fisher, in 1983, was the last player from the school to make the state field.

The coach hopes the girls can build on the positive momentum Ohlman’s appearance brought.

Witt is going to have Ohlman talk to the younger players about what kind of work she put in to make fast strides.

The Lady Panthers’ .667 winning percentage (10-5) and Mid-Illini Conference (fourth) and Richwoods Sectional (fourth) finishes in 2008 were the best in Witt’s recent tenure.

“I hope we start a tradition where we’re thought of as one of the better teams in the area,” Witt said.

Another senior, Quinlan Duchaine, also made the first-team all-conference team.

Washington’s Catrina Hollaway, one of four varsity returnees next year, earned second-team status.

The three all-M-I picks also are the most under Witt this decade.

Further details on all-conference honorees in each fall sport will appear in an upcoming edition.