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Girls’ tennis: Rebuilding Conant, WLC teams square off

  • The Conant girls' tennis team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' tennis team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' tennis team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' tennis team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' tennis team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' tennis team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' tennis team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' tennis team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' tennis team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' tennis team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' tennis team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' tennis team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' tennis team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' tennis team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' tennis team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' tennis team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' tennis team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Saturday, April 13, 2019 9:59AM

Conant and Wilton-Lyndeborough’s girls’ tennis teams are both young squads in the midst of building years. Both have solid foundations, but on Thursday afternoon, the Orioles were ready to raise the roof, shutting out the Warriors 9-0. 

“What I’m feeling happiest about is that we’re all freshman and sophomores,” said Conant coach Jody Baker. The Orioles graduated three seniors and lost another player to transfer, forcing several players to step into larger roles this year. They’ve risen to the challenge. 

Sophomore Sarah Smith moved up to the No. 1 spot after a good offseason of work with Len Tilton.

“She has the best form on the team, she has the best strokes, and she can hit   hard,” Baker said. “She can put some pace on the  ball.”

In fact, the Orioles field a solid top three who could all contend for the No. 1 spot. 

“They’re very close, 1, 2 and 3,” Baker said. “Sarah has the best form, Abby [Wheeler]’s very steady, and Liz [Gonyea] is a go-getter. They have real different strengths.”

All the Orioles were victorious on Thursday as as they faced a Wilton-Lyndeborough team with similar youth but less experience. Fran Bujak, the longtime WLC boys’ coach, stepped in to coach the girls this season, with only two of his top six bringing varsity experience to the table.

“This would not be an ideal way that anyone would want to start,” Bujak said, “putting four players out there with no experience in your singles that have to go out and play the first time against larger schools that have people who have been playing for a long period of time. On the flipside of that, you’re going to get a lot better a lot quicker. You get thrown in the fire and away you go.”

The Warriors have yet to win a matchup this season after being blanked by Sanborn – the largest school in Division III – in back-to-back games to open the spring season. But the improvement is already noticeable. 

“We’re starting to develop strokes, we’re starting to develop positioning, there are fewer double faults than there were the first few times,” Bujak said. “It’s a progression.”

Senior Emma Krug is the best of the bunch and she’s earned the No. 1 spot, Bujak said. 

“It’s her experience, what she’s done, her height, her willingness to come to the net,” Bujak said.

She gave Smith a good fight in their matchup at No. 1 Thursday but lost 8-3.

The Warriors’ No. 2 is exchange student Lundara Irashova, who lost to Wheeler 8-0. Beyond the top two, the rest of the Warriors are underclassmen who could make strides in their future together.

“If the group stays together, it’s a really good nucleus,” Bujak said.

WLC’s other varsity returner, No. 3 Erin MacDonald, dropped her match to Gonyea, 8-1.

No. 4 Elizabeth Jacob, another tennis newcomer, won a pair of games against Conant’sKayley Bennett but finished with an 8-2 loss.

Freshman Hannah Kelley won her first two games of the season before ultimately falling to Conant’s Emily Muilenberg 8-2. 

And, Conant’s Lily Bowers shut out WLC’s Senya Sours at No. 6.

Smith and Gonyea beat Krug and Irashova at No. 1 doubles and Bower and Victoria Bennett topped Kelley and Madeline Straw.

The match of the day may have been at No. 2 doubles, where Wheeler and Muilenberg battled to an 8-6 win over MacDonald and Jacob.

Both coaches had high praise for their teams in the early going.

“It’s a great group of girls, they’ve got great attitudes, they’re trying as hard as they can and they’re all trying to learn as much as they can every time they’re out there,” Bujak said.

“I’m thrilled with what they’ve been doing,” Baker said. “They’ve been coming to practice, they’re listening, they’re working hard, they’ve got good attitudes.”

WLC (0-4) would go on to be shut out again by Gilford on Friday, where the MacDonald/Jacob team put on another great show at No. 2 doubles before losing in an extended tiebreak. Jacob also played well in singles, losing 8-5, and Kelley worked hard before losing at No. 5, 8-3.

Conant (4-1) would beat Trinity 7-1 on Friday to move up the ranks in Division III, which has been left wide open with the departure of Pelham and Bow to Division II. 

ConVal 7, Bishop Brady 2

ConVal’s top four – Julia Peters, Catrina Kipka, Zoe Werth and Eva Calcutt – all won hotly contested singles matches against Bishop Brady Wednesday to stake the Cougars an early lead. Then, ConVal swept the doubles portion, with Peters/Calcutt, Kipka/Werth and Jill Karlicek/Sandra McKay all victorious, to come away with a 7-2 win.

Coe-Brown Northwood 8, ConVal 1 

It was a different story for the Cougars on Thursday when they traveled to Coe-Brown. Julia Peters was the only ConVal player to win, beating Megan Wimsatt 8-3 and getting a bit of revenge, as Wimsatt had beaten her in 2018.

Catrina Kipka lost a long, close and good match to Mary Thomas, 8-5. 

ConVal head coach Gloria Morison said the Cougars “were losing steam” by the time the doubles matches rolled around, and after that it was over, an 8-1 loss.

Goffstown 5, ConVal 4

Catrina Kipka, Zoe Werth, and Lena LaFleur all won their singles matches against Goffstown Friday, LaFleur’s a marathon 8-2 affair with a slew of long points. 

Julia Peters made a valiant comeback at No. 1, winning three games while down 7-1 but ultimately losing 8-4.

Kipka and Werth won at No. 2 doubles, but that was ConVal’s only doubles win, and the Cougars dropped the match 5-4.

The Cougars are 2-4 on the season. They’ll travel to Hollis-Brookline on Wednesday.

BOYS’ TENNIS

 

Windham 6, ConVal 3

ConVal coach Michael Young said Wednesday was the coldest weather his boys had ever played in, but the Cougars still battled a very good Windham team.

Zach Kriebel got an 8-2 revenge win over Matt Ryan, who’d beaten Kriebel in a tie-break last year.

Taylor Burgess stayed undefeated at singles with a win at No. 3 over Henry Montiero, 8-6.

Kriebel and Burgess teamed up for ConVal’s only doubles win.

ConVal 7, Coe-Brown Northwood 2

The weather was better on Thursday and so was the result as ConVal won handily over Coe-Brown Northwood, 7-2. 

Zach Kriebel, Everrett Landers, Taylor Burgess, Jamison Coty and Brady Proctor all won in singles; Kriebel and Burgess stayed undefeated with their doubles win, and Landers and David McKay won at doubles as well, McKay’s first win of the year.

ConVal 8, Goffstown 1

Zach Kriebel’s entertaining match at No. 1 against Goffstown’s Italian exchange student Simone Perra was the only loss of the day for ConVal on Friday.

Everrett Landers, Taylor Burgess, Jamison Coty, Noah Krason and Dylan Daume all won their singles matches; Kriebel and Burgess won a shutout at No. 1 doubles; Landers and Coty won 8-1 at No. 2 and Krason and David McKay won at No. 3.

ConVal (3-3) hosts Hollis-Brookline Wednesday at 4 p.m.