WATERBURY – Audrey Carpenter and Caroline Nicolai won a tense third-set tiebreaker to help Middlebury snare a 4-3 victory over Harwood during Friday’s girls tennis action.
The No. 1 doubles partners capitalized on a handful of Highlander shots that were called out by a matter of millimeters to wrap up a 7-6, 3-6, 13-11 victory over Quinn Nelson and Charlie Flint. Scarlet Carrara, Julia Bartlett and Talia Cotrone provided points for the Tigers in singles to give their team a slight edge over the hosts.
“At the start of the match today we developed our strategy around letting Charlie drive longer shots and forcing the other team to the back of the court, so that Quinn could take them out of the air when they came back,” Harwood coach Kristin Kassis said. “And it was working really well, so it was fun to watch. Quinn is so effective in a doubles setting when you can use your partner to push the other players back and put them on the defensive. It allows your net player to have fun and put stuff away or create an unforced error. Quinn is learning how to do it and she loves it. “
The Tigers dominated the top of the singles order to earn their third straight victory. Carrara was in the zone at the No. 1 spot, coasting to a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Livi Ambler. Julia Bartlett overpowered Ella Dice, 6-1, 6-1, at the No. 2 position.
“Livi Ambler and Ella Dice are both equal players – they just have different styles,” Kassis said. “Ella is more of a power player, so the goal for her this year will be to become more consistent and harness her power. I think Livi is the exact opposite: She’s incredibly consistent. And she’s a freshman, so it will be how to get more power from her shots. “
Cotroneo pulled ahead early at No. 3 singles and easily closed out a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Liv Sprague. Harwood’s Cierra McKay dropped the first set before rallying to a 4-6, 6-4, 10-8 victory over Paige Hescook. McKay led 9-5 in the third-set tiebreaker and lost three straight points before closing things out during a 21-shot rally.
“Livy Sprague is very consistent and has very nice form and we’re working on her power,” Kassis said. “And she and Cierra have a very different game, so we may move them. They will probably be interchangeable at No. 3 and 4, depending on who we’re playing.… Cierra is one of our most consistent players, she’s extremely athletic and she just hangs in there for the entire match. And she pulled it out today by sticking with it and playing very consistently. “
Harwood’s Anna Alberghini filled in for Maeven Cattanach at No. 5 singles and rallied to a 3-6, 6-2, 10-6 victory over Oni Krizo. Highlanders Addey Lilly and Cass Berry outlasted Maeve Rochel and Sophie Mason, 6-3, 1-6, 10-7, at No. 2 doubles.
“We’re moving our doubles around and trying different combinations to see what works, and we’ll continue to do that,” Kassis said. “We’ve got a lot of girls who come to every practice and there’s not a vast difference between the No. 1 doubles player and the last one and I just want them all to have a chance to play this year.”
Last year the Tigers carried a 12-0 record into the Division II final before suffering a 4-3 defeat agaist Montpelier. Middlebury opened the 2022 season with losses to DI Colchester and Mount Mansfield before bouncing back with a 4-3 victory at BFA-St. Albans and a 5-2 win at Spaulding. The Tigers (3-2) will host U-32 at 3:30 pm Monday.
“Middlebury did lose six seniors and a lot of the teams are rebuilding this year,” Kassis said. “We have quite a few juniors, but for most of them it’s only their second year. So we’re really focussing on everybody developing their form and playing really consistently – and most importantly just falling in love with the game, because this is a lifetime sport. So we’re focussed on just having fun and improving.… We’re blessed that most of the girls on the team play some other sports and in general it’s an athletic group of girls. Eye-hand coordination is not something you necessarily teach: You kind of have it or you don’t. And then really it’s about how you apply everything to the game. You have to harness your power, be consistent with your shots, understand how to play a short game and a long game. And what we’re really working on is to get them a bigger, fuller appreciation of the game. “
Harwood (0-5) opened the season with losses against South Burlington, Spaulding, Montpelier and Rice. Despite the losing record, the Highlanders are confident that their first victory is on the horizon.
“We played Rice (on Thursday) – and we had the same thing with a bunch of matches that ended with third-set tiebreakers,” Kassis said. “None of them went our way unfortunately against Rice, but it’s a great learning experience. Tennis can go either way depending on your state of mind and where your head is at because it’s such a mental game. So it’s important to teach the girls to really stick with it all the way to the end and keep their focus. And that’s how you eventually win matches. “
The Highlanders finished at 12-2 in 2016 following a 4-3 championship loss to Montpelier. Harwood advanced to the 2018 final with a 16-0 mark and was upset by Woodstock, 5-2. This year’s squad will return to action Monday with a 3:30 match at BFA-St. Albans before visiting North Country on Wednesday. The second half of the Highlanders’ schedule will include a handful of rematches, presenting the possibility for some payback victories.
“It seems like we have a shot at Spaulding, but it’s hard to say,” Kassis said. “What I really want to see for the girls is the improvement from the first time we play these teams until the time we meet them next. If we win two matches, let’s win three. Or if we win three, let’s win the whole thing . As we move through the season, it’s all about growth and development. And I’m seeing stuff we worked on last week show up today and yesterday, so it’s really fun. And spring tennis is tough because we have so many rain days. We have to reschedule so many matches that it reduces time on the court to actually practice in between the matches. On rain days we do strategy sessions. But it’s one thing to talk about it and another thing to talk about it and then go on the court and actually practice it. “
Scarlet Carrara (M) def. Livi Ambler 6-0, 6-0
Julia Bartlett (M) def. She says 6-1, 6-1
Talia Cotroneo (M) def. Liv Sprague 6-1, 6-2
Cierra McKay (H) def. Paige Hescook 4-6, 6-4, 10-8
Anna Alberghini (H) def. Oni Krizo 3-6, 6-2, 10-6
Audrey Carpenter and Caroline Nicolai (M) def. Quinn Nelson and Charlie Flint 7-6, 3-6, 13-11
Addey Lilly and Cass Berry (H) def. Maeve Rochel and Sophie Mason 6-3, 1-6, 10-7
Spaulding 15, Stowe 1
STOWE – Addison Pinard punished the Raiders with a hat trick Friday and four of her teammates scored twice.
The Crimson Tide built a 7-0 halftime lead and didn’t let up after the break on offense or defense. Hallee Allen contributed two goals and two assists, while Bella Bevins, Isabella Boudreault and Portia Berard also finished with two goals. Teammate Paige Allen chipped in with one goal and one assist. Zoe Tewksbury, Grace Isham and Ruby Harrington also scored, with Pinard dishing out one assist.
“A lot of girls can put the ball in the net and we have a lot of girls with a lot of talent,” Crimson Tide coach Jason Pinard said. “It’s just a matter of finding the open cutter, and it’s a little easier against the weaker teams than against the hard teams. It’s great to see that the girls are unselfish and spreading the ball around.”
Goalie Corrina Moulton made 12 saves for Spaulding. Jalona Mundo, Paige Allen, Sage MacAuley, Emily Morris and Lily Tewksbury were defensive standouts.
“Our team defense was the big storyline,” coach Pinard said. “All the way from the girls on attack to the midfield, everyone has been playing amazing defense and that’s been the big difference this year. We’ve only had one game out of nine that we’ve given up more than eight goals.”
The Tide put the finishing touches on a busy week after earning a 7-6 victory at Rice on Monday and an 11-8 victory at the Green Mountain Valley School on Thursday.
“I was a little worried about if the girls would get worn down from playing a tough game against GMVS, but they seemed strong today,” coach Pinard said. “We’re definitely in a lot better shape than we were at the beginning of the year.”
Stowe (1-3) will host Lamoille at 3 pm Saturday. Spaulding (7-2) will carry a three-game winning steak into Tuesday’s 4:30 pm home game against Vergennes.
Vergennes 7, U-32 4
VERGENNES – The Commodores outscored the Raiders 4-1 in the second half to earn their fourth straight victory Friday.
Emerson Rice paced Vergennes with two goals. Haile Huizenga, Elena Bronson, Reese Gernander, Ava Doherty-Konczal and Annie Dufault added single goals.
Willa Long (two goals), Alyssa Frazier and Ella Neff scored for U-32, which played for the second time in two days. Caitlyn Fielder notched one assist and won two draws, while fellow Raider Zoe Hilferty won three draws. Emily Fuller made nine saves in the loss. Neff, Morgan Ribolini and Hannah Darby excelled defensively for U-32.
“We played well defensively, and overall put together a much more complete game,” U-32 coach Emilie Connor said. “We feel very good about this game despite the result. We’ve shown great growth over the past week and are learning and adjusting each day. We won the draw battle 7-6. And although we lost the second half 4-1, we had a lot of possession time. We just couldn’t create enough scoring chances against a solid defense. But we executed a great ride in the midfield. “
U-32 (2-5) will host Burlington at 4:30 pm Tuesday. Vergennes (4-1) will travel to play Hartford at 6:30 pm Thursday.
GMVS 13, Harwood 4
FAYSTON – Molly Queally (seven goals) and the Gumbies pulled away midway through the first half to set the tone for Friday’s victory.
Meg Ryan (three goals), Harper Travis (two goals) and Sequyah Walther-Gingold (one goal) also stepped up for the GMVS attack. Elizabeth Spina, Sadie Nordle, Anna Kudriavetz and Lucy Sullivan scored for HU and teammate Abi Leighty made eight saves. GMVS goalie Maxine Van Strien stopped four shots.
“GMVS plays a unique style,” Harwood coach Hillary Wheeler said.
The Gumbies improve to 2-4, while HU falls to 1-4. The Highlanders will travel to play St. Johnsbury at 6 pm Saturday before hosting Lamoille at 4:30 pm Tuesday.