ConVal falls in D-II opener
Cougars lose 9-0 to No. 1 Portsmouth
It had been eight years since a ConVal girls tennis team made an appearance in the postseason.
The last group to do it was in 2004 when the Cougars earned the sixth seed and made it to the Class I semifinals. The appearance was the last of four straight for the girls tennis program. Since then, ConVal had come close a few times, but had failed to break through.
That is until the 2013 team snapped that streak by earning the eighth and final seed in the Division II tournament thanks to winning a three-way tiebreaker with Souhegan and Trinity.
“My goal since I took over the girls program has been to make the playoffs,” said coach Greg Morris. “I was really proud of what the girls accomplished.”
Then ConVal had to travel and face undefeated and No. 1 seed Portsmouth in the quarterfinal round on Wednesday. And the Clippers were just too much for the Cougars. But despite ConVal’s 9-0 loss that put the team’s final record at 7-8 overall, Morris was pleased with the effort.
“It was the best match my girls played this season,” said Morris. “They knew they were up against it.”
Senior No. 1 Caroline Trowbridge lost 8-1, as did the next two players in ConVal’s lineup, senior Chloe Kipka and sophomore Chloe Tournier.
Junior No. 4 Ashlynn Wing had the closest singles match of the day, but fell 8-4. McKenzie West lost 8-0 in the fifth position and Kathy Pavlik dropped an 8-1 decision at No. 6.
In the final match of their careers, Trowbridge and Kipka put up a good fight against the top-ranked Clippers’ best doubles team and even led 6-5 before losing 8-6. Tournier and Wing fell 8-4 at No. 2 doubles, while West and Pavlik lost 8-3.
The Cougars began the season with three wins in the first four matches, but hit a rough patch around ConVal’s April vacation and dropped four in a row. ConVal won a close 5-4 match with Lebanon before losing back-to-back matches with Hanover and St. Thomas — the No. 2 and 3 seeds in D-II.
So entering the final week of the regular season, ConVal had to win all three of its remaining matches and get a little help — both of which happened — to get the Cougars into the final tournament position.
“We won when we had to win and that’s the most important thing,” said Morris.
ConVal finished one win out of the eighth and final position last year, so the top goal entering this season was to make the team tournament.
ConVal graduates five seniors from this year’s team, but return three from the top six.