Young MUHS girls’ tennis team battles Harwood

TIGER NO. 3 PAIGE Hescock, one of two seniors on the girls’ tennis team, prepares to hit a backhand during her 6-4, 6-4, victory over Harwood’s Liv Sprague on Friday, earning her team one of its points in a 5-2 setback. Independent photo/Steve James

TIGER NO. 1 GIRLS’ tennis player Maeve Roche lines up a forehand during her close match vs. Harwood’s Ella Dice on Friday. A tiebreaker decided it after she and Dice split two sets.
Independent photo/Steve James

MIDDLEBURY — This spring always promised to be a developmental season for the Middlebury Union High School girls’ tennis team after two consecutive appearances in the Division II finals: For the second straight season, most of the team’s starters graduated, five out of nine, to be exact, and only two seniors remain.

The good news is that development appears to be occurring, at least based on the evidence on display at this past Friday’s match against Harwood. The visiting Highlanders prevailed, 5-2, but decisive tiebreakers ended four matches, three of which went the Tigers’ way. A fifth tiebreaker ended the second set of No. 2 singles match in Harwood’s favor and voided the need for a match-deciding  tiebreaker.

More to the point, Coach Dan Comar is pleased with the improving quality of the Tigers’ play given that three of the top four singles slots are occupied by players who were on doubles teams a year ago: senior No. 1 Maeve Roche, junior No. 2 Audrey Carpenter, and junior No. 4 Caroline Nicolai.

Returning senior singles play Paige Hescock is slotted in at No. 3 singles and picked up one of the two Tiger wins on Friday, playing steadily and choosing her spots wisely to go for winners, while sophomore Piper Farnsworth debuted at No. 5 and lost a competitive match.

The No. 2 doubles team of sophomore Subia Khan and freshman Anna Wolisinski earned the other MUHS point, winning in a tiebreaker, while the No. 1 doubles team of junior Amelia Coburn and sophomore Sophia Boise played a marathon match, splitting sets decided by tiebreakers before falling in a match tiebreaker.

Comar pointed to the improvement, even in matches. Carpenter steadied her game and forced a second-set tiebreaker after losing the first set, 6-0, and trailing, 5-2, in the second set, for example.

“They’re learners, right?” Comar said. “Everyone is playing long points, and they’ve developed a lot, even down to No. 2 doubles, where they haven’t even played a match yet this year.”

MUHS NO. 2 GIRLS’ tennis player Audrey Carpenter lays into a backhand, which was a weapon for her on Friday as her comeback vs. Harwood’s Cierra McKay fell just short in a second-set tiebreaker.
Independent photo/Steve James

He expects more development as the season progresses.

“We see a lot of potential in everybody,” Comar said.

Meanwhile, the team is also enjoying the experience, he said.

“They’re a tight group, and they like being around each other, and they like practicing,” Comar said. “As long as the practices are happening, we’re getting better every single time.”

The individual match results were:

At No. 1 singles, Ella Dice (H) defeated Roche, MUHS, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 10-3.

At No. 2 singles, Cierra McKay (H) defeated Carpenter, MUHS, 6-0, 7-6 (10-8).

At No. 3 singles, Paige Hescock, MUHS, defeated Liv Sprague (H) 6-4, 6-4.

At No. 4 singles, Maeven Cattnaugh (H) defeated Nicolai, MUHS, 4-6, 6-4, 10-5.

At No. 5 singles, Quinn Nelson (H) defeated Piper Farnsworth, MUHS, 7-6 (7-3), 6-1.

At No. 1 doubles, Cassidy Berry/Hadley Anderson (H) defeated Coburn/ Boise, MUHS, 7-6 (7-3) 6-7 (5-7), 10-4.

At No. 2 doubles, Khan/Wolisinski, MUHS, defeated Mae Murphy/Nina Herzel (H) 7-5, 3-6, 10-6.

The Tigers are set to visit U-32 today (Monday, May 8) and two-time defending D-II champion Montpelier on Wednesday.


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