BRATTLEBORO -- One day before the Kentucky Derby, it was the Colonels that were doing all of the running.
Charging the net. Chasing down deep lobs. Sprinting from side to side.
In the end, the rested Rutland girls varsity tennis team made its way to the winners circle with a 6-1 victory over fatigued Brattleboro.
"We had some close matches, but they are a little too tough for us," said Brattleboro coach Tom Weber. "It was a good experience for our team. We got to try some people in some different positions."
Sophomore Jaida Henry, who usually competes in doubles, played in her first singles match at the varsity level and defeated Rutland’s Sarah Nadler 2-6, 6-2, 10-7 at No.5.
"I was really nervous going into it," said Henry, who used the first set to figure out her opponent’s weaknesses. "When I hit it at her hard, she kind of fumbled it. And I noticed that she struggled with her backhand."
Three women sat on the bench behind the second court to cheer on Henry.
"Way to go, Jades!" screamed one of them, after Henry used a powerful forehand during the second set to make things interesting. The super sophomore later charged the net and found an opening to force a tiebreaker.
"I liked singles. I’d like to try it again. I like singles and doubles," stated Henry.
Her marathon match was the exception on Friday. The majority of the others didn’t last long and ended with a much fresher Rutland player or duo walking off the court victorious.
Brattleboro’s Haley Marcil was thrown into the fire, with the talented Aidan Early injured and top gun Katie Tsukamoto on a class trip. Rutland ace Caitlin Hanley used a wicked serve and forehand to overpower Marcil 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1 singles.
Rutland’s second doubles team of Dana Stewart-Christina Lovett cruised to a 6-0, 6-1 decision over Kim Bau-Emily Tanis. And at fourth singles, Rutland’s Megan Nadler trampled Greta Larson 6-0, 6-2.
"I got a couple of grunts in. I’ve been working on that," joked Larson after her match. She also talked about her swing with BUHS assistant coach Joey Meyer.
"She played hard. She hit a lot of good shots. She has good footwork," said Meyer of Larson.
Weber and Meyer had to be pleased with what they saw in the other three matches.
At No. 2 singles, Taylor Bird played under control all day and showed off her athleticism in a 6-0, 6-4 loss to Rutland star Kristen Switzer.
Junior Grace Willingham, who usually teams up with Henry in dubs, was accurate with her long forehands during her 6-4, 6-2 loss to Melanie Hubbard at third singles.
Jenn Hutton and Danielle Looman both served really well in their 6-4, 6-4 loss to Kelsey Bullock-Amber Thomas at No. 1 doubles.
It was the second time this season that Rutland defeated Brattleboro by a 6-1 score (Bird beat Megan Nadler in the first meeting). The 1-6 Colonels will visit Hartford today.
Shane Covey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 163.