The entire girls’ JV tennis team played their hearts out on Saturday afternoon to secure a decisive win over Hotchkiss. The squad came off the bus determined to make a long and challenging trip to Lakeville worth it and as usual demonstrated mental and physical endurance to prevail over the Bearcats. However, Hotchkiss did not go down without a fight and, for the most part, gave Deerfield its most competitive play of the season.
Maddie Chai ’17 won the #1 singles match 8-5, drawing on her remarkable consistency and outlasting her opponent. In #2 singles, Helena Tebeau ’17 played her most tenacious tennis of the season and won 5 games in a long and challenging match. Ally Edwards ’17 and Claire Zhang ’18, at #3 and #4 singles respectively, stunned their Hotchkiss partners 8-1 and 8-2, giving Deerfield three critical points towards a win. Notably, Chai, Tebeau, Edwards, and Zhang provided invaluable leadership, support, maturity, and confidence for their teammates throughout the day.
Though Soo Oh ’20, lacking a doubles partner due to illness, was technically required to forfeit her match, she decided to take on the challenge of Canadian doubles and faced off against the Bearcats’ #2 doubles team. Oh pushed herself to new heights and made Hotchkiss grateful for the automatic point, as she won 7 games in a row and, 3 games later, got an 8-2 win.
Doubles 1 and 3 were the true battlegrounds of the day, and Deerfield’s fate rested on the shoulders of four intrepid 9th graders: #1 pair Tess Mannix and Whitney Vogt, and #3 duo Acy Cai and Ally Kell. Both pairs have worked hard in practice to fine-tune their communication, hone their ground game, and increase their aggression at the net, and their excellent play on Saturday showcased this intense dedication. Mannix and Vogt traded games with their opponents and, after nearly 90 minutes, were deadlocked at 8-8 when their opponents put together two games to secure a third point for Hotchkiss.
Everything came down to Cai and Kell’s doubles match, as the triumphant side would give their school the final point needed to win the day. Cai’s vicious volleys and Kell’s power and accuracy from the baseline were particularly notable as they went all the way to 9-9 with their Hotchkiss opponents. In the end, the pair demonstrated unbelievable focus, single-mindedness, and strong teamwork to prevail in the final game, allowing only one point to go to Hotchkiss.
Every member of the team should feel proud of themselves for both the level of play and the excellent sportsmanship they demonstrated throughout the day. They now head into the second half of the season with wins over Hotchkiss, Suffield, and Williston, and a loss by just one point to Taft. The team will play three matches this week, away at Stoneleigh-Burnham on Monday and Northfield Mount Hermon on Wednesday, with a Saturday contest at home versus Loomis Chafee.