Unpredictable Hand-Bolander get job done at the net

By: 
J. Patrick Eaken

The Oak Harbor first doubles tandem of juniors Emma Hand and Jessa Bolander finished as Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division runners-up, earning first team all-league honors.
Hand and Bolander defeated Huron’s Jaiden Borzon and Emma Studer, 6-0, 6-4 and Willard’s Dakota Cok and Ashley Hammons, 6-1, 6-4 to reach the Bay Division championship match, where they fell to Port Clinton’s Paige Reineck and Alyssa Mares , 7-6 (2), 2-6, 11-9, in a long, match that went the distance and more.
Oak Harbor coach Rick LaFountain said his top doubles duo have come a long way since they first began playing.
“Both players have played together since they were freshmen. This is their first season on varsity,” LaFountain said. “The girls communicate very well and always know where each other are on the court. They work very hard and find a way to win the matches.”
LaFountain says Hand and Bolander are unpredictable in their strategy, even if it’s not always traditional tennis.
“The main reason for their success is that both are very good at the net. They do not always play doubles by the book,” LaFountain said. “The girls are always moving back and forth and poaching. When players play them, no one knows when they will go into the net or back up. Both girls are athletic. I have really enjoyed coaching these two and look forward to having them next year.”
Bolander admits the Rockets’ doubles tandem has come a long way, and it helps that they use gimmicks for motivation.
“Since the first practice freshman year, Emma and I have been double partners. We call ourselves ‘The Dream Team.’  Each match, Emma and I wear matching crazy socks. They bring us good luck. Last year, we were JV SBC champs and this year, we were first team varsity. I'm proud how far we have come," Bolander said.
Hand says their strategy is simple — make sure every point gets returned.
“We acted like every ball was the last one,” Hand said. “The key is to have fun and Jessa and I always make sure to have fun. Playing doubles requires you to know your partner. It’s important to have a good connection with your team.”
Oak Harbor has four honorable mention All-SBC players—first singles player Kaitlyn Strouse, third singles player Colleen Warner and the second doubles team of Haley Frondorf and Addison Auer.
Strouse finished fifth, losing to Port Clinton’s Arielle Montowski 6-1, 6-1 in the opening round, but rebounding to defeat Tiffin Columbian’s Ella Dysard .
Warner was winning her opening match over Alpana Kurtz 3-2 when she took the match by default. She lost to PC’s Reagan Ruthsatz 6-0, 6-1 in the semifinals.
Frandorf and Auer defeated a Huron duo 6-3, 6-7(1), 10-7 to advance to the semifinals, where they fell to Port Clinton’s Lilly Howell and Alexa Taylor, 6-2, 6-1.
 

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