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Canfield senior returns to state

CANFIELD — Anna Kan isn’t caught up in the pageantry of the state tennis tournament.

The Canfield High School senior doesn’t stand in awe of the Linder Family Tennis Center where professionals like Roger Federer and Serena Williams have played for years.

The aura around Mason, Ohio, — in the metro Cincinnati area — doesn’t get Kan starstruck. She’s been there plenty of times before.

Kan is making her third straight trip to the Division I state tournament after qualifying out of last weekend’s Division I Akron District.

“She’s the first girl in Canfield’s school history to qualify three times in singles,” Canfield girls tennis coach Pat Pavlansky said. “We’ve had girls who have qualified all four years, sometimes doubles, sometimes singles. She’s the only girl who has qualified as a singles player three separate years.

“Not easy to do, especially with our district. Our district was tough this year. We thought there were eight or nine girls that could’ve made the trip, depending on how the matches go. For her to come through, really proud of her.”

Being a six seed and facing a top seed in Delaware Olentangy Berlin’s Ella Franz on Friday morning doesn’t faze Kan.

“I play tournaments all year round, so I know most of these people,” Kan said. “I play tournaments with most of these people, so I’ve seen them. I think of this as another tournament in the year, not high school special seeding.”

Kan went from making the final 16 her sophomore year to winning a match and being in the final eight last season.

Pavlansky said getting to the state semifinals and finals on Saturday has a different meaning for him.

“I told her just win so we can go out and have a free meal,” Pavlansky said. “That’s why I want you to win. We had a lot of fun last year with her parents. I’m looking forward to that again. It’ll be more fun to have an extra night, because I’ve been able to do that a couple of times down there, too.

“I want her to experience that.”

There are times Kan is frustrated on the court. When allowed, Pavlansky comes over to calm her down.

“I tell her stupid chemistry jokes and make her smile to get her to relax,” he said. “Her mindset is good. She understands what the tournament is all about. She plays really well, she’s got a good chance to win. She likes that, but doesn’t like it because it’s all on her.

“At the same time, I couldn’t be more proud of an athlete.”

She’s well aware she gets into her own head when she’s playing bad. Kan listens when he talks to her.

“Honestly, Pav will say something and it doesn’t help because I’m already mad at myself,” she said. “For me, it’s the thought that counts. Give me a few seconds and it’ll sink in. If you see the demeanor on the court and see how I am, you’ll think I don’t listen at all. It gets there, just a little bit later.”

Warmer weather has returned for this weekend and, for Kan, it’s something she likes. Mason’s weather Friday is scheduled for 77 degrees, but with a chance of scattered thunderstorms.

“Maybe that’ll play out in my favor? I don’t know,” she said.

It sure beats 40 degrees in district play.

“I don’t like the feeling when you’re sweaty and get a cold breeze,” Kan said. “I’m not a cold person. I don’t like it.”

Pavlansky likes the feeling of watching the very talented Canfield senior play the past few seasons.

“I don’t want it to end,” he said. “That’s for sure. I don’t want it to end for her because that whole Saturday experience is a crazy, different experience. It is. I’ve only been in it a couple of times as a coach, never as a player for sure. It’s not going to be easy.

“You wish that for everybody, they get to play on the last day the sport is taking place in the state of Ohio. That’s a fun day.”

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