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Golf history, tennis tradition on display for Lexington in Columbus


1:00 AM, Oct. 18, 2012 EDT

Lexington's Theresa-Ann Jedra, who will participate in this week's girls golf state tournament, is flanked by state tournament-qualifying tennis players Jillian Earnst, Elise Betscher, Alex Griebling and Nicole Dragos. / Daniel Melograna/News Journal

LEXINGTON -- It's part of her morning routine.

Lexington senior Theresa-Ann Jedra pops into Mike Kathrein's government class before school to say hi to her golf coach and chat with tennis-playing friends Nicole Dragos and Elise Betscher.

Are they giving each other pointers?

"It's mostly (Jedra) giving us government pointers," Betscher joked.

All three have plenty to chat about this week.

Jedra, a straight-A student, is also aces on the golf course. She's the first girl from Lex to qualify for the state tournament and will play Friday and Saturday on Ohio State's Gray Course. A couple miles away, Dragos and Betscher will be competing with different doubles partners in the state tennis tournament on the OSU courts.

They could save on gas and travel together in a school van, but that would be messing with Jedra's routine. And you don't want to mess with her routine.

Last week she was the Division I district medalist at Stone Ridge in Bowling Green, crediting attention to detail for part of her success. Small details like not letting Kathrein take off his coat and making him carry his can of Coke for the entire round, even after it was empty.

"I was sweating unbelievably after seven or eight holes and I said, 'Can I take my coat off?' She said 'Absolutely not,' " Kathrein said, laughing. "She has a lot of little superstitions like sitting in the same spot on the team van every time. Golf is a lot about routine and she stays in that routine."

The girls on Ron Schaub's tennis team are all about routine, too. They routinely win. Even though they had to move on this season without two-time state singles runner-up Courtney Earnest, they are ranked No. 2 in the Division II coaches poll and won another district championship to qualify for the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association state team tournament for the seventh year in a row.

As a tune-up for Sunday's OTCA Final Four in Reynoldsburg, Dragos will pair with Alex Griebling and Betscher with Earnest's younger sister, Jillian, in the OHSAA tournament at Ohio State.

It's the third time Betscher has qualified in doubles and second time with Earnest. But, they go in as a No. 2 seed after getting upset in last Saturday's district finals by Dragos and Griebling 7-6, 7-6.

It was a rematch of the sectional finals, won 7-5, 6-1 by Betscher and Earnest. This time their opponents rallied from deficits of 5-6 in the first set and 2-5 in the second set to win both tiebreakers.

"We just started playing more aggressive," Dragos said. "We usually tank the second set by accident and we actually thought it would be going to a third set. But then I won my serve and we were back in it. We were super relaxed, knowing we were going to state anyway (they clinched a berth by reaching the finals)."

Dragos teamed with Jillian Earnest to win the decisive match in last year's 3-2 victory over Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy in the finals of the OTCA tournament, giving Lex its second straight title and fourth in the last six years. Dragos spent most of this season playing No. 3 singles and No. 1 doubles with Earnest. But, come sectionals, Schaub opted to put Betscher, the No. 1 player, back with Earnest and paired his No. 2 and 3 singles players.

Dragos and Griebling have been on a roll. Their only loss as a tandem was in the regular season when they dropped a third-set tiebreaker to a duo from Dublin Jerome, the No. 1 team in Division I.

"Alex is the funniest girl I've ever met," Dragos said of her red-haired teammate. "She'll pick everybody up whether they're down or not. She's got this weird sense of humor and doesn't mind making a fool of herself."

Griebling says she uses humor as a motivational tool.

"Emotionally, you have to be set for a match; you don't want to be in a bad mood," she said. "We started calling ourselves 'the Militia,' because that's what the football team calls itself. We even wore eye black (in an OTCA district semifinal win over Ottawa Hills).

"I'm excited about state ... but a little nervous."

Jillian Earnest was in Griebling's shoes last year when she and Betscher earned second-team All-Ohio honors by going 1-1 at state.

"Last year I got most of my nerves out; I was basically the youngest player there," Earnest said. "I think Elise and I have grown as players and maybe we're even trying harder. Last year we thought we'd make it to state but didn't know how far we'd get. Then we saw a team we beat at our invitational make it all the way to the finals, so we've worked more this season on what works for us."

Earnest isn't treating the loss in the district finals as a setback.

"It was kind of a wake-up call, but when we play (Griebling and Dragos) in practice we have a lot of deuce games," she said. "They just happened to win that match. It's not that we have to step up our game. We just have to play as well as we can."

In the OTCA Final Four, Lex will face No. 3 Cincinnati Indian Hills at 8:30 a.m. with No. 1 Columbus Academy pitted against No. 11 Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown in the other semifinal at Reynoldsburg High School.

If everything goes well on Friday in the OHSAA tournament, the girls will play at three different sites in three days. Because Ohio State has a home football game Saturday, the second day of the OHSAA tournament will be played at Hilliard Davidson High School.

"The big thing is just knowing that if you get past the first round (Friday), you want to be excited, but you've got to be mentally prepared for the next round," Betscher said. "I'm so pumped up for state, that we're all going together."

Jedra will be a one-girl show on the links for Lex. A member of the school's homecoming court, she spent last Saturday before the dance playing 18 holes at Westbrook Country Club. But it wasn't a typical round. She'd hit her tee shot and then, from wherever it landed, strike three balls from that spot, playing the best ball in an attempt for birdies and par.

"(Homecoming court) was another good thing that happened to me," Jedra said. "I wasn't really expecting it. I think it was good because I was able to practice and had something else to do besides play golf or think about playing."

Familiarity won't be a problem at state. Jedra played on the Gray Course several times a couple of years ago while attending camp at OSU. And she knows many of the other qualifiers from playing with them on the summer circuit, including defending medalist Danielle Nicholson of Geneva and 2011 third-place finisher Ali Nageotte of Rocky River Magnificat.

"I liked the course a lot," Jedra said. "I had some good scores there, so, hopefully, if I could do it two years ago, I can do it again.

"I'm trying to keep myself calm. If I stay focused I'll be fine. I'm not as nervous as I was for sectionals and districts, which is kind of weird. Sometimes, getting (to state) is harder because you're thinking at sectionals and districts, 'This could be my last round.' "

Kathrein, who founded the team four years ago, feels blessed to have had Jedra all four seasons.

"How many people get a chance to start a program?" he said. "I would have done it even without someone like Theresa-Ann, but she just made it better -- a whole lot better."

 

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