All-Bi-City tennis: Brookstone's Baris, East and Columbus' Boren, Hill earn top honors

Brookstone boys, Columbus girls accomplished their goals

dmitchell@ledger-enquirer.comJune 5, 2014 

The Brookstone boys tennis team wanted to leave its mark on a program rich in history. The Columbus girls wanted to build a foundation that later generations could look back on as the start of something great.

Though just one of the two, Brookstone, won a state championship -- the Lady Blue Devils were runners-up in Class AAAA -- both found equal success in accomplishing the season's goals.

For their efforts, the top players and coaches from the two programs were selected with the top awards for the Ledger-Enquirer's All-Bi-City team. Brookstone's Baran Baris is the Boys Player of the Year, while Jim East in the Boys Coach of the Year. Columbus' Madelyn Boren won Girls Players of the Year honors, while MikelAnna Hill is the Girls Coach of the Year.

Baris was the No. 2 singles player for the Cougars, playing behind the 2013 player of the year, Kazuki Onoe. East said the two were interchangeable in 2014, and Baris finished with the spotless record, 18-0.

Baris said he came into the season simply trying to leave an imprint on a successful program. He left with more than that.

"This year was incredible," he said. "I couldn't ask for a better way to finish my time at Brookstone. … We were very focused. Being seniors, we were focused. We weren't able to (win state) last year, so we just started early in the year saying that we wanted to leave an impression somehow. Every day we pushed everyone to go that extra mile, to run that extra lap and it paid off. We're very humbled by it."

Meanwhile, the Columbus girls, featuring a number of underclassmen, were trying to take the next step in building their program.

Last season was a second-round exit from the state playoffs, put out by eventual state champion Marist, which won the title again this season.

This time, the Lady Blue Devils got to face Marist in the finale, and just being there provides a building block for the future.

"Second in the state is amazing considering how many underclassmen we had on the team," Hill said. "It was part of the process, a learning experience.

"They've been in that situation (at state) and know they can compete. In the next few years, hopefully we can get back and realize we've earned that spot with those teams."

Hill's No. 1 singles player, Madelyn Boren, earned player of the year honors for leading Columbus in tough matches deep into the playoffs.

She was 16-7 overall and won multiple matches the Lady Blue Devils needed to have in the playoffs.

As a sophomore, she has two more seasons to progress, a fact that made Hill let out a cheer and a laugh on the spot.

"We don't have a limit," Boren said. "We can go wherever we want if we put the time in. We've got a young team and a lot of potential."

Things won't necessarily get easier as Columbus moves into Class AAAAA next season, but Hill wouldn't want it to anyway.

"We want to play the best," she said. "That's the only way you get better."

David Mitchell, Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports and on Facebook at facebook.com/ledgerenquirersports

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