Deerfield worked hard for a win over Choate bright and early on Saturday morning in what was the most hotly contested match of the season. The team dug deep and relied on leadership and excellent play from 12th graders and top three Maddie Chai, Helena Tebeau, and Ally Edwards, as well as a stunning performance from first doubles, 9th graders Tess Mannix and Whitney Vogt, to win the day.
Choate’s second and third doubles teams were ultimately stronger on Saturday. However, Deerfield did not go down without a fight: sophomore Sasha Hinckley and junior Julia Bewkes, playing second doubles, came back from a 0-4 deficit to get 4 games before their opponents took the first set, and managed to win two more games in the second set before Choate took the match. 9th graders Acy Cai and Ally Kell gave their best effort in third doubles, and improved from 1-6 in the first set to 3-6 in the second.
Mannix and Vogt’s first doubles match was an emotional rollercoaster for the players and spectators. The dynamic duo came out dominant in the first set, handing Choate a 6-2 loss. In the changeover, however, Choate appeared to learn something, and stunned Mannix and Vogt with a 6-1 win in the second set. Doubles one took a deep breath and buckled in for a long third set to break the tie, and both Mannix and Vogt fearlessly charged the net to outmatch Choate in aggression. The end was Deerfield’s, as the 9th graders finished strong with a 6-4 win and Deerfield’s first point of the day.
In singles, Tebeau played a long first set with her partner, going to deuce over and over, but eventually pulled out a 6-4 win. Ready to get off the court, she allowed her opponent just one game in the second set. Edwards had a quick first set, 6-1, but then Choate warmed up and surged for a few games. Edwards stayed calm with a score at 4-4, won the next two games, and gave Deerfield its third point. Claire Zhang ’18, at fourth singles, got a quick 2-0 lead in the first set, but her opponent frustrated her efforts and won six straight games to take the set. Zhang gave her opponent a tough time in the second set, and the two deadlocked at 5-5 to play two more games. Despite Zhang’s best efforts, she was unlucky, and so it came down to senior captain Chai, in her last match of the season, to determine Deerfield’s fate.
There was no one better to be last on the court, Deerfield’s triumph or doom on her shoulders, than Chai. Only improving under pressure, Chai came out on fire after a tight 4-6 loss in the first set and blew her opponent out, 6-1, in the second. Throughout the third set, Chai sent her opponent scrambling around the baseline, tiring the Choate player out and jamming her in the corners to hammer out a 6-3 win. Chai remained calm and focused on one point at a time, worked to get to every ball, and played strategically against her opponent’s weaknesses to give Deerfield its 6th win of the season.
Deerfield will travel to play Andover’s varsity B team on Saturday in the team’s last match of the season.