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Girls Tennis

A match to remember

Conant defeats Berlin 5-4 for first playoff victory at Peterborough indoor courts

  • The Conant girls tennis team defeated Berlin 5-4 in the Division III Quarterfinals on Wednesday, May 22, 2013.<br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant girls tennis team defeated Berlin 5-4 in the Division III Quarterfinals on Wednesday, May 22, 2013.<br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant girls tennis team defeated Berlin 5-4 in the Division III Quarterfinals on Wednesday, May 22, 2013.<br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant girls tennis team defeated Berlin 5-4 in the Division III Quarterfinals on Wednesday, May 22, 2013.<br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant girls tennis team defeated Berlin 5-4 in the Division III Quarterfinals on Wednesday, May 22, 2013.<br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant girls tennis team defeated Berlin 5-4 in the Division III Quarterfinals on Wednesday, May 22, 2013.<br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant girls tennis team defeated Berlin 5-4 in the Division III Quarterfinals on Wednesday, May 22, 2013.<br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant girls tennis team defeated Berlin 5-4 in the Division III Quarterfinals on Wednesday, May 22, 2013.<br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant girls tennis team defeated Berlin 5-4 in the Division III Quarterfinals on Wednesday, May 22, 2013.<br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant girls tennis team defeated Berlin 5-4 in the Division III Quarterfinals on Wednesday, May 22, 2013.<br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant girls tennis team defeated Berlin 5-4 in the Division III Quarterfinals on Wednesday, May 22, 2013.<br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant girls tennis team defeated Berlin 5-4 in the Division III Quarterfinals on Wednesday, May 22, 2013.<br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant girls tennis team defeated Berlin 5-4 in the Division III Quarterfinals on Wednesday, May 22, 2013.<br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

It will go down as the first home playoff match in Conant girls tennis history, but the No. 3 seeded Orioles were far from the comforts of home when Wednesday’s 5-4 victory over Berlin in the Division III quarterfinals finally ended.

But no matter where the win came, it still ranks as the first in the program’s postseason history and also gave the team 11 overall this year — the most for a Conant team.

“They pulled this out as a team,” said Conant coach Jody Baker. “They really earned this.”

With rain and thunderstorms in the forecast, the hope was to get the match in before weather made it impossible to finish. With Berlin traveling about three hours to Jaffrey, no one wanted the Mountaineers to have to return on a different day.

So Baker contacted the Monadnock Indoor Tennis Club in Peterborough, where she is a member, on Wednesday morning and explained the potential situation. Baker was told that one court would be open at 5:30 p.m. and two could be available at 7 p.m. if the club was needed to finish the match.

“I knew there were thunderstorms in the forecast and I didn’t know how it would all play out,” said Baker. “I wanted a nice sunny day where I only had to focus on tennis.”

Turns out the Orioles would need the indoor space.

With the Orioles leading 4-2 and all three doubles matches in play, it began to sprinkle. The sprinkle turned into a harder rain and then the lightning rolled in. Under NHIAA rules, once thunder is heard, play must be suspended and may not continue until 30 minutes after the last rumble. Also in the tennis policies and procedures manual, it is stated that the team tennis tournament is intended to be an outdoor event and only under emergency conditions and with both teams in agreement, may it be played indoors.

“We made every possible attempt to play this outside,” said Baker. “The only option for us was another day or go inside.”

Berlin agreed to make the short trip to MITC to finish the match. At the time, Conant trailed by one game at No. 1 doubles and was down big in the second doubles pairing, but held a narrow 3-2 edge at No. 3. All the Orioles needed was one more win.

“MITC was very gracious to do this and I’d never ask during the regular season because we have make-up days,” said Baker.

By a little after 6 p.m., the two teams arrived at MITC and had the use of two indoor courts. After a short warm-up, Conant’s No. 1 doubles team of juniors Allina Bennett and Courtney Dillon resumed their match on one court, while the No. 2 team of freshman Shannon Bennett and sophomore Ashley Rogers played on the other. Shannon Bennett and Rogers, who trailed 7-2 when play was suspended, lost 8-2, opening up the court for the No. 3 pairing of senior Vickie Roach and junior Hannah Clark.

Roach and Clark quickly took control of the match, winning five of the next seven games over Berlin’s team of Abbie Dube and Deirae Jackson, to secure the first playoff victory in Conant tennis history.

“I’m pretty proud of them. They were the ones determined to make this happen,” said Baker.

All the while, Allina Bennett and Dillon did not know the outcome. The No. 1 team trailed Miriam Arsenault and Karli LaCasse 4-3 when they got to MITC, but battled back to force the match to a tiebreaker, only to fall 9-8 (7-2).

While the Orioles officially won the match in doubles play, Baker knows that it was really clinched during Conant’s four singles victories. Shannon Bennett got things going with a dominating 8-0 win in the third position. Allina Bennett, Shannon’s older sister, lost 8-0 at No. 1 to even the match at one win apiece. Then Roach, playing at No. 4, earned a convincing 8-1 win and Rogers cruised 8-0 at No. 5.

Dillon played a marathon match at No. 2 with Arsenault, but couldn’t get over the top in the end, losing 8-6.

Leading by just one, Clark gave the Orioles a decisive advantage going into doubles play with an 8-3 win.

“It gave us the opportunity to need only one win in doubles,” said Baker. “And it still could have easily slipped away.”

The Orioles were scheduled to play No. 2 Profile on Friday. The Patriots had a 14-0 record in the regular season and earned a bye to the semifinals.

This is the fourth time Conant has qualified for postseason play and the first since 2010 — the second of back-to-back appearances.

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