Through three years at Orange, Alexis Nyborg has risen to the top of the high school rankings. With one year left, all she has left to do is capture that elusive state title.

Orange Lions’ standout junior Alexis Nyborg said it still feels like yesterday when she joined the tennis team in 2019. Little did she know would she become a perennial powerhouse and the first Orange female Division II state finalist on Oct. 23 in Cincinnati.

She almost became the first individual female state champion but lost in the final round to junior Macy Hitchcock from Eaton 6-1, 6-2.

Orange coach Richard Bole said he had high hopes for Nyborg when she started out as a freshman but she has exceeded everyone’s wildest expectations.

“I think we knew that obviously she was going to be a big-time high school player but I don’t think we knew how big,” he said. “To that point I don’t think her tournament record was as indicative of how great she was going to be.”

Originally from Boca Raton, FL, Nyborg’s first taste of tennis came when her parents took her along with them to local tennis courts.

“I just liked the competitiveness of it,” Nyborg said. “I’m a competitive person and I liked just doing stuff like that.”

When she was 6, her schedule soon became busy as her weekends were filled by her frequently competing in different tournaments.

The Orange junior’s family moved to Ohio before her first year of junior high. Her family planted their roots in Moreland Hills and she began attending the Orange middle school. A year later, her father, Frederick, became the head tennis coach at Solon High School.

After coming to some practices and hitting balls with the varsity team when she was in junior high, Bole saw Nyborg having a big role when she got to high school. Blessing Nwaozuzu headlined the Lions at the number one singles but the team lacked depth behind her.

With Nyborg’s father coaching at Solon, Bole admitted he was concerned that she would want to go to Solon to play for him.

“To be honest that’s always a fear at Orange,” he said. “The families always have a lot of choices and the biggest fear is that they would make a decision to go to other schools. Like all my middle school kids, I just try and build a relationship with the family early and that has usually served us pretty well.”

There was no doubt in Nyborg’s mind that she would continue her playing career at Orange.

“I knew I wanted to play tennis for Orange when I was still in junior high,” she said. “I wasn’t tempted to go play for my Dad at Solon. I started at Orange middle school before he went to Solon. I wanted to stay and I wouldn’t have wanted to be at the same team as my Dad. It would have been awkward.”

After taking over at number two singles, Nyborg caught a glimpse of what it would take to make it to the next level of high school tennis when she lost to Gilmour’s Carly Cohen 6-1, 6-1 early in the season.

“I think it was a wake-up call,” Bole said. “Carly was such a tenacious competitor and was really able to battle to the very end and treated every point as a great opportunity. I think Alexis learned something from that. She was a talented ball striker who would take points off early in her career and I think as time as gone along she’s gotten better and better about cherishing every opportunity.”

Nyborg continued to grow and eventually qualified for the state tournament after placing fourth at districts.

She finished her freshman year as a state quarterfinalist after she lost to Hathaway Brown’s Nicole Gillinhov 6-1, 6-2.

It marked the end of a great season but Nyborg wanted more.

“I wanted to make it to the semifinals,” she explained. “It would be great to place at states so I made it a goal to work harder to make it to the semifinals.”

Nyborg went undefeated in the regular season her sophomore season and continued to impress in the postseason by winning both the sectional and district title to earn a trip back to Cincinnati.

“All of sudden Alexis went from having occasional struggles to just rolling the competition,” noted Bole. “Every match was just a blowout.”

Nyborg’s return to Cincinnati saw her make it to the state semifinals but she fell to Hitchcock in the state semifinals 6-3, 6-0 and settled for fourth place after a loss to Kettering Archbishop Alter’s Grace Lampman 7-6, 2-6, 6-2 in the consolation match.

She enjoyed another strong regular season this year and defended her sectional and district titles to become the sixth three-time state qualifier in school history.

Nyborg delivered some payback against Lampman by defeating her 4-6, 7-6, 6-0 to secure a spot in the state finals but could not overcome Hitchcock.

Through three years at Orange, Nyborg has etched her name into the record books but is far from finished. She has one year left and is determined to put a ribbon on her high school career by finally capturing the state title

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