Bishop Brady’s Herrington defends girls’ singles title

  • Bishop Brady junior Sydney Herrington smiles as her father and coach, Lee Herrington, puts a medal around her next Wednesday in Manchester. Courtesy

Monitor staff
Thursday, June 08, 2017

MANCHESTER – The third part of the trilogy couldn’t be finished in two sets, which seemed only right.

“I’m happy that it went three sets,” Bishop Brady junior Sydney Herrington said. “I’m glad I didn’t win 6-0, 6-0 or she didn’t win 6-0, 6-0. It’s a good representation of our talents.”

The accurate portrayal was a 2-6, 6-3, 10-6 win in Wednesday’s NHIAA girls’ tennis singles final for the top-seeded Herrington. And the “she” was Manchester Central senior Julia Chappell, the No. 2 seed who beat Herrington in the 2015 final and then lost to her in the 2016 final, setting up this year’s rubber match.

“I wanted that tiebreaker,” Herrington said.

She certainly looked ready to take it after rolling to a 6-0, 6-0 win in the semifinals against Bishop Guertin freshman Claire Reynolds earlier in the afternoon at The Derryfield School. But in the first set of the final, Herrington was tight, and she had the unforced errors to prove it. The moment she had worked so hard to reach suddenly felt too big.

“I was kind of waiting for this point and I just guess I wasn’t ready,” Herrington said. “I was just focused on, ‘Oh my gosh, this is her again,’ but not really thinking about how I was playing.”

And Chappell (who beat No. 4 Ashley Keaveney of Exeter in the semifinals, 6-1, 6-2) knew exactly what to do against an unfocused opponent. She used her heavy topspin on her lefty forehand and lots of slice on her backhand to keep things in play and keep Herrington making mistakes.

After Chappell closed out the first set by breaking Herrington at love, Brady Coach Lee Herrington helped his player/daughter re-focus on the task at hand. He reminded her to attack the net, an effective part of her game that she also loves. He also gave her a few tips on the serve that had won her so many free points in the semifinals but had deserted her in the first set against Chappell.

The reminders helped Herrington jump out to a 2-0 advantage, but Chappell answered with three straight games to take the lead. That’s when Herrington showed her mental toughness, and her great touch at the net, to fight back against the scrappy and talented Chappell and even things with the 6-3 second set win.

Herrington said she was feeling good during the 10-minute break the players had before the deciding 10-point tiebreaker, which is used in place of a third set. The good feelings carried over into the tiebreaker as she steadily built a lead: 3-0 ... 5-2 ... 8-3 ...

But at 8-3 there was a disagreement about the score and Herrington lost focus. Chappell, fighting to the last, took advantage and reeled off three straight points. And she refused to give an inch on match point, chasing down multiple balls and making Herrington hit a powerful overhead to win it.

“I’m happy,” Herrington said, “but I’m also relieved because I was so nervous at the beginning.”

She will be back at the Derryfield courts on Thursday with her Brady teammate Ravalika Damerla to play in the doubles semifinals against Guertin’s Reynolds and Sara Schmitt. If the Brady girls, the No. 2 seed, can win there, they will face the winner of the match between Concord’s Alex Killinger and Becky Cistulli and ... Central’s Chappell and Krysten Walker, the top-seeded defending champs.

Asked if she was going home to get lots of rest for the doubles, Herrington nodded, grinned and said, “and celebrate.”

On the boys’ side, Bedford’s Zack Gould claimed the singles title with a 6-2, 6-4 win against Lebanon’s Jacob Peress. The win caps an amazing career for Gould, who was part of four undefeated championship seasons at Bedford. But he almost lost in the first round of this singles tournament and had to fight off two match points against Concord’s Aidan Connor before advancing with a 9-7 win.

No. 2 Gould beat Hanover’s Noah Borell in the semfinals, 6-1, 6-3. No. 3 Peress knocked off top-ranked Matt Lapsley of Souhegan, 6-4, 6-4, in the other semifinal.