Mt. Mercy makes strides
by Mathew Ondesko, Owner
Geoff Schneider/Sports Union
If you told me the first day of practice that the Mt. Mercy Academy tennis team would go on to win five games, and finish fourth in the Monsignor Martin, I would have said no way. Not that the girls didn’t have talent, but six out of the 10 had never picked up a racket before.
From day one, it was about learning the game. Teaching them how to hold a racket, to serving, to hitting forehands and backhands. The process was tedious, but enjoyable. Every girl came to practice and wanted to learn, and get better.
Get better is exactly what they did. The first league game was an eye opening experience. To say they were overwhelmed might have been an understatement. I mean what would you expect after a handful of practices.
The loss to Buffalo Seminary could have went one of two ways. They could have said here we go again, or learn from it. They learned from it. This team was different from the ones in past years. The competitive edge, and wanting not to lose, was evident.
The girls came to practice to get better, even if it was 40 degrees outside. They wanted to win. They wanted to learn. A win over St. Mary’s built up their confidence. They followed that win with wins over O’Hara twice before running into a tough Sacred Heart team. A team they lost to 4-1, but it was a lot closer than the score indicated.
A rematch with Buffalo Seminary loomed, and the girls wanted this one. It’s been awhile since they beat Buff Sem in tennis. The girls came out strong with Addison Barth winning at first singles and sophomore Alexis Dintino winning at third.
With the match tied up at 2-2, it came down to the final doubles with sophomore Nora Vattes and freshman Lauren Szpylman having to win to give Mercy the team victory. After dropping the first set, the girls battled back to win the second set 6-0 and we up 5-0 before making it close. Sem rolled off four straight games before a pep talk by Isabelle Reaska got them back on track. They were able to close out the match, and give Mercy a great victory.
Like most young teams, Mercy hit the wall. The schedule was grueling with seven matches in 10 days. The team limped their way to the finish line and finished the year 5-7.
Through it all, the team produced a lot of first. There were a lot of first varsity wins, first singles wins and first doubles wins. It was a team effort, and each girl fed off the other.
While Barth has been the face of the team at first singles since her freshman year, others joined the party. Dintino showed she could handle the third singles spot in her first year, sporting at 4-4 record at the spot.
Vattes also showed a lot of potential during the season. While her and Szpylman went 5-3 in doubles, Vattes also went 2-2 at third singles, and could have easily been undefeated at the spot.
Szpylman was another bright spot at doubles. She and Vattes formed a good doubles team that earned wins over Buffalo Seminary at Sacred Heart. She also played second singles and earned the victory.
Reaska and Anna Thomasson formed a great team and first doubles, and took the best shot from other teams. They earned wins over Mt. St. Mary, O’Hara and St. Mary’s, while also leading Sacred Heat 4-1 in both sets before losing.
Linda Li earned her first varsity win at doubles when she partnered with Julia Rosado in their win over MSM. After suffering loss after loss for the first two years of her varsity career, Brogan Maloney earned not one, but two varsity wins. It shows how much her dedication to her team has paid off. Junior Eve Janak played well, also, when she played up with varsity.
With such a young team coming back, expectations will be high for this group of young women. This is a group that can handle those expectations.
The future is bright for Mt. Mercy tennis, and it’s led by a very promising group.