By BOB YORK
It took until the next day to get the results – by email – and two days after that, the trophy finally showed up – via UPS.
Yes, it was that kind of year for the Deerfield Academy girls tennis team. It was a season marred by injuries and illness but it was also a season that ended on a high note. It just took a little extra time to find out about it.
The Big Green girls, who went 8-2 on the season, wrapped up their tennis season on May 19, at the Kent School deVilla Franca Tournament in Kent, Conn., the same day as its prom.
“In order to make it back home in time for the prom, we had to leave before the tournament had ended,” explained Dave Dickerson, the Deerfield coach. “There were a number of key matches yet to be played, so when we hopped on the bus, our fate had yet to be determined.
“The next day, we finally got the word … we’d finished second,” added Dickerson. “Then, two days later … about an hour before our spring sports award assembly, I got a call from the Main School Building that the trophy had just arrived.”
And so, all’s well that ends well: Everyone who was going to the prom, went to the prom and everyone who played a part in the silver-medal effort at Kent got a chance to pose with the trophy before scattering to the winds just four days later. The second-place finish marked the seventh time the Big Green girls have won a silver medal during these festivities, while they have made it to the podium five other times as well. They have made the trek twice to receive the championship trophy, while they have finished third on three other occasions.
“It was a wonderful ending,” said Dickerson of a season that was plagued by gimpy ankles and knees and a bunch of runny noses due to spring allergies. But, as the Big Green mentor pointed out, “it may have been Annika Trapness’ torn shoulder muscle that supplied us with the most inspiration.”
The Deerfield doubles team of Trapness (13) and Cleo Siderides (13), who was co-recipient of this year’s Sara C. Schewe Trophy along with Mary Cherna (12), went into the Kent tourney unseeded “because we put the two of them together for the first time just three days before the tourney,” explained Dickerson. And they pulled off a second-place finish in the 12-team field.
“To watch Annika was really something,” said Dickerson. “You knew she was hurting … whenever she served, she had to throw the ball up underhanded. But it worked, and they made it all the way to the finals.”
Two other Deerfield players went deep into the tournament’s singles competition. Ritchey Howe (12), the squad’s number-one seed, and Cherna, the second seed, both made it to the semifinal round in their respective brackets, where they lost by identical scores of 2-1.
During the regular season, Howe, who was the recipient of the Coaches Award for a third straight season, rang up a 5-4 record and finished a three-year streak as Deerfield’s top-seeded player with a 22-11 record.
“Ritchey’s not only been an outstanding competitor for us, but she’s been an outstanding team leader as well,” said Dickerson. “You don’t see too many girls come through here and own the top seed for three years like Ritchey did, and you don’t see too many girls come through here and win three straight Coaches’ Awards like Ritchey did, either.”
Cherna , meanehile, finished her prep school career with a 3-5 showing, while Siderides was the third seed and posted an 8-2 record. The remainder of the singles competition consisted of the fourth seed, Zoe L’Esperance (12), while Ashley So (13) and Alyssa Moreau (14) filled in as the fifth and sixth seeds respectively.
The doubles competition saw Siderides and Moreau comprise the first unit, while Margaret McGraw (15) and Olivia Mehm (14) made up the number-two team. The third squad, meanwhile, found Emily Rand (13) and Lindsay Elmlinger (12) teaming up to do battle, as Porter Simmons (12) and Tora Hallstrom (13) also saw action together.
“Losing Annika early on forced everyone to move up one slot,” said Dickerson, “and needless to say, with all the shuffling around we had to do, it sort of put us in a funk during which we lost back-to-back games … our only two losses of the season … and then we snapped right out of it.”