High School tennis: Kearsarge, Brady girls lose in semifinals

Monitor staff
Published: 6/3/2021 2:47:01 PM

Two years ago, the Kearsarge girls’ tennis team went to Littleton and got blown out in the Division III semifinals. On Wednesday, the Cougars were back in Littleton and back in the semifinals, and there was no blow out this time.

The Crusaders still came away with the win and another trip to the final, but Kearsarge (13-1) pushed them to the limit before falling, 5-4, for its first loss of the season. 

“Most of these girls were sophomores or freshmen playing on that team in 2019, so they had been here before and they really stepped up this time,” Cougars coach Elizabeth Lincoln said.

That starts with the top two, junior Addy Stadler and senior captain Becca MacDowell. They were both in the top six of the ’19 team, and they had a hand in all four of Kearsarge’s team points on Wednesday.

Stadler claimed an 8-6 win at No. 1 singles, and MacDowell won, 8-2, at No. 2. Those were the only singles wins for the Cougars, although Estelle Chmura (9-7 loss at No. 3) and Marissa Montagna (8-6 loss at No. 5) came close.  Despite being down 4-2, Kearsarge felt good going into doubles.

“They were definitely hyped up and excited,” Lincoln said.

The energy translated to wins on the first two doubles courts. Stadler and Callie Valeri ran away with an 8-2 decision at No. 1, while MacDowell and Chmura won, 8-3, at No. 2.

It looked like the Crusaders would quickly clinch at third doubles as they raced out to a 6-2 lead there, but Kearsarge’s Montagna and Kennedy Geary fought back to make it 6-5 before eventually falling, 8-6.

It was the second match in two days for the Cougars, who beat Lebanon, 7-2, in Tuesday’s quarterfinals. Stadler, MacDowell, Valeri, Montagna and Geary all won their singles matches in that one.

Division II

The Bishop Brady girls’ tennis team also played two playoff matches in two days earlier this week, and the Giants also took a long trip north of the Notch. They faced Kennett in North Conway on Tuesday, and after falling behind in singles, they swept the doubles for a 5-4 win. Things didn’t go as well the next day as Hollis Brookline won five of the six singles matches on its way to a 6-3 semifinal win.

“I do think playing back-to-back matches and those long car rides made a difference, our girls looked a little tired compared to (Tuesday),” Brady coach Kelsey Perreault said. “But (Hollis Brookline) is a very good team, credit to them.”

In the quarterfinals, the Giants got singles wins from Jaidan Bergeron (8-2 at No. 2) and Libbey Hicks (8-6 at No. 3), but Kennett won on the other four singles courts. Needing the doubles sweep, Brady got just that from Julia Puleo and Hicks (8-4 win at No. 1), Bergeron and Cassidy Gendron (8-4 win at No. 2), and Laura Yap and Morgan Casey (8-6 win at No. 3). 

Those doubles teams played well again in the semifinals, although the match was already decided by that point. Bergeron and Gendron won, 8-3, at second doubles and Yap and Casey claimed an 8-6 decision at No. 3. The first doubles team had to default after Puleo injured her wrist early in the match. Yap earned Brady’s only singles point against Hollis Brookline with an 8-5 win at No. 6.

“This is my first year coaching and working at Brady, so I really had no idea what I was getting into,” said Perreault, who was the JV girls’ basketball coach and assistant on the varsity girls’ basketball team that won the D-II title. “And only a few of the girls really played, so we were not sure what this season was going to be like, and to make it to the final four is just incredible. These girls were so impressive and their sportsmanship and etiquette was off the charts.”

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