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Francestown girl leads Derryfield into tennis playoffs; Conant boys and girls ready for tourney

  • Emma Place of Francestown is a junior at Derryfield School, where she's the No. 2 player on one of the state's best girls' tennis teams. Staff photo by Ben Conant



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, May 21, 2018

If she hadn’t enrolled in Derryfield School, Emma Place of Francestown might not have found the sport she’s now dominating. In her younger days, she wasn’t too interested in athletics, but Derryfield – like many private schools – requires students to play at least two sports. So, she went through some training with her dad, Brooks Place and made the cut for her freshman year.

“He worked really hard to teach me - he's a very good tennis player,” Place said.

Place worked her way from the 20th position on the Division I Cougars to No. 6, where she went undefeated last season as Derryfield dethroned Hanover and won the state title.

“They were really expecting to win but we pulled off a really tough match, which shocked a lot of people,” Place said.

Place lost just once this year as a junior at No. 2, against defending champion Bedford. To be fair, the perfect storm of her prom weekend and studying for an AP exam didn’t help matters, as she grew tired after a 5-2 lead and couldn’t close it out.

And, she can boast friendly game wins over two of ConVal’s best boys’ tennis players – last year’s No. 1 Alex Chambers, now graduated, and current No. 1, sophomore Zach Kreibel.

“She gets to everything,” Kriebel said of Place. “ She hits with a bunch of topspin and only occasionally hits it far too hard. We have really similar games, she's just better at keeping the ball in play. At this level, it's all about who makes more errors which is usually me.”

Place and her Derryfield teammates start the DI tournament as the No. 2 seed. They’ll host No. 7 Exeter on Wednesday in the quarterfinals. A win there, and it’s a date with the winner of No. 3 Bishop Guertin and No. 6 Nashua South with a championship berth on the line.

No. 1 Bedford is on the opposite side of the bracket, and they’re the team to beat. But, Place is optimistic that she and the Cougars could pull it off. After all, they’d lost to Hanover in the regular season last year, too, before upsetting them in the finals.

“Anything can go any way, but I think we can do it if we work really hard,” Place said. “There are really tough teams this year - Bedford and BG - but we're really good, too.”

Division III playoffs

The Conant girls earned the No. 2 seed in the DIII playoffs by beating Monadnock and Pelham to conclude their season last week.

The Orioles went to three straight Division III championships from 2014-2016, beating Bow for the title in 2016.

Conant’s only two losses this season came against defending champion Bow.

The Orioles will start the postseason at home on Wednesday, when they host No. 7 Sanborn at 4 p.m. Conant beat Sanborn twice in the regular season and only lost one set.

Wilton-Lyndeborough won’t make the playoffs, but they did pick up their second win of the season in their finale, beating Stevens 6-3.

No. 1 Jackie Bird, No. 2 Emma Krug and No. 6 Lexi Marcott won their singles matches, and the Warriors swept at doubles as well. There, Bird/Krug, Erin MacDonald/Anna Levesque, and Lauren Stevens/Marcott were all victorious.

“It was a great way to end the season,” said head coach Betsie Sullivan.

Boys’ DIII playoffs

It’s been years since the Conant boys’ tennis team made the playoffs, but that streak has now been snapped, as the Orioles clinched the No. 3 seed despite a season-ending loss to Bow.

On Friday, the Orioles got wins from Sigmund Winiecki and Chris Newton in singles and doubles wins from Winiecki/Conner Ahern and Newton/Evan Bennett, but Conant lost to the Falcons 5-4.

The Orioles will host No. 6 Pelham Tuesday at 4 p.m. A win there would put them in the semifinals on Thursday against the winner of No. 2 Bow and No. 7 Inter-Lakes.

Sports Editor Ben Conant can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 226 or bconant@ledgertranscript.com.