BRATTLEBORO -- With five out of nine of their athletes new to the program this year, the Colonel girls tennis team had a perfectly productive first time out on the BUHS courts, as Brattleboro swept Bellows Falls during their first match of the season, held Tuesday afternoon.
"We were a little nervous coming in, being our first match," said Brattleboro coach Tom Weber. "But we did well, I thought. Fortunately, we inherited some good athletes this year."
Weber is talking about newcomers Halie Lange, Taylor Bird, Linnea Jahn, Kara Piergentili, and Haley Marcil.
Lange is a track and field star and Nordic ski champ, Bird is a floor general on the basketball team, Linnea Jahn and Kara Piergentili have teamed up before in soccer and Nordic skiing, and Marcil is just new.
Lange beat the Terriers’ Alex Harris at No. 2 singles, 6-1, 6-0, with her lightning serves and quick returns. Harris put up a decent fight, but Lange’s track abilities began to shine through as she stuck to the court and blasted some hard, short volleys.
Bird also made a sweet debut, with a win over Quinn Lawrence, 6-3, 6-3, at No. 5 singles. Bird had some clean serves but Lawrence made her work for it, with some challenging returns. Lawrence did a great job forcing Bird into the corner, and took a small points lead late in the second set, but Bird caught on as Lawrence began to run out of fuel.
At No. 4 singles, Ali Fielding took on the Terriers’ McKenzie Brandon, and beat her, 6-0, 6-4. On the next court over, Libby Annis gave her Brattleboro team a late No. 3 singles win against Bridget Johnson, 6-0, 6-1. It was an intense match, and one of the longer matches played.
The most grueling match of the afternoon though, was the Colonels’ Aidan Earley versus Emma Moyna. Spectators watched as the two battled it out, widdling away at each other, until Earley got a substantial surge and held it, for a 6-2, 6-2 win.
Earley put a mean spin on most of her serves, and clipped, or barely cleared the net, to make leg work tricky for her opponent. Moyna had a few close calls near the line with her returns, but it became apparent after a couple games that she was instead using sheer skill, and not relying so much on desperate luck.
"We’re still wild, and we need to hit more balls," said Weber. "We will have to do more in this area since we’ll be facing a lot of tough teams. But it was a good way to get the season started."
The Colonels doubles players also gave the Terriers a hard time.
Leading the team in tandem, Kara Piergentili and Linnea Jahn prevailed over Antonio Dufort and Faith Romos, 6-1, 6-0, at No. 1 doubles. Four seniors made up the field, and all of them demonstrated their experience.
At No. 2 doubles, Brattleboro’s Anna Kerlin-Smith and Haley Marcil crushed Kayla Gilcrest and Taylor Westfall, 6-0, 6-2. Gilcrest, a junior, struggled on some serves against the Colonel seniors, but Westfall helped the somewhat inexperienced duo stay alive for a while. Kerlin-Smith is in her fourth year on the team.
Dave Chelsey, the Terriers’ new coach, said he felt okay about his team’s performance and that it is important to remember that they are a young team.
"It’s all about winning a few games and learning how to turn those games into sets, then sets into matches," said Chelsey, who mentioned he plays tennis regularly. "There’s a learning curve involved, and the more we play, the better our strategy will become. That comes from practice and match play, and the team needs to win enough matches to be competitive."
The Colonels play Otter Valley on Friday at 4:30 p.m. The Terriers will host Burr and Burton on Thursday at 4:30 p.m.
David Aquino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 164.