Valley News – Bedford women’s tennis is Hanover’s roadblock
HANOVER – Someone at Hanover Public Works had the best idea to help the Hanover High women’s tennis team in their NHIAA Division II semi-final on Wednesday: losing the other team.
A detour around the construction of the bridge deck welcomed would-be tennis fans heading down Reservoir Road towards the Storrs Pond Recreation Area. A flashing sign sent the cars to the right and up a steep hill before hitting a cul-de-sac – no courthouse in sight.
It wasn’t until a native pointed out the absence of another detour marker at Rip Road that the return route became evident.
The visiting Bulldogs got the memo, arrived on time, and left town with a 9-0 victory.
Seventh-year Hanover coach Liz Murray realizes there is no easy path around Bedford (15-0), who will win their third consecutive DI title on Friday and their fifth in six years. The Bulldogs’ top-to-bottom excellence relies on year-round play, versatility in their approach to each opponent, and a wide and deep roster.
“They are very organized in terms of play,” said Murray. “They have a lot of talent. Many of them have a lot of tennis experience. For some of them, it is their main sport. So we are facing a team that has a lot of talent.
Having athletes who don’t put their rackets on the back burner between July and March regularly makes Bedford one of the best programs in the state every spring, according to sophomore coach Myles Utell. This has become particularly important this year after New Hampshire was lost last season to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It really depends on how much time they’ve put in the offseason,” Utell said. “It’s not just one or two good players. It’s an overall solid roster where I feel like our 7, 8, 9 and 10, who can’t play as many games as they really should, could beat a lot of other girls because they have put the clock round. It’s really well done to them.
It starts with Bedford’s senior ace Carley Citron, a powerful southpaw who beat Hanover No.1 Eleanor van Aalst in their opener, 8-0.
Citron repeatedly hit hard, flat balls at van Aalst, drawing a tie in one game and winning the last 10 points of the game to put the Bulldogs on the board.
Senior co-captain Taylor Suozzo follows, a lanky right-hander whose 8-3 No.2 singles win over Hanover’s Carly Miles was rich in give and take. Suozzo showed his best form with a two-fisted backhand cannon to lead shots past Miles for points.
“Carley is a much more serious player; she’s played high profile USTA tournaments for years, ”Utell said. “Taylor is a very, very strong personality, where she’s very emotional. And that really helps a lot, because she doesn’t put herself down too much and she can be really back up really quickly. If she makes a mistake, it’s very easy to go back.
Despite the dominance of the visitors, Hanover (10-5) could indicate some improvement from the back-to-back 9-0 loss to the Bulldogs early in the season in mid-April, Murray said.
Sophomore Noura St. Hilaire provided the proof in the tightest contest of the day, a loss to May Zheng of Bedford at No.4.
Broken down early, St. Hilaire won three straight games to a 5-3 lead. Zheng broke St. Hilaire’s serve in Game 10 to tie it at 5-5, pushed back his own break point to 7-7 and ultimately sidelined his opponent with a winner over for the decision. 9-7.
“She’s a new player this year for me, and tennis is not her main sport, but she’s grown a lot and learned a lot about herself as a player,” Murray said. “Her confidence in what she’s doing has grown, but I also like the fact that she’s able to roll with the punches and doesn’t really let things get into her head, which is a great. good skill to have. “
Murray said it was clear St. Hilaire was having fun. Hanover players were able to drop their COVID masks in competition about a week and a half ago, and the Hanover coach liked being able to see his players’ reactions on their faces rather than just over the ridge. of their nose.
“I really think as a coach it’s a lot easier for me to read people,” said Murray. “But I also had the advantage of being in school all year round; I teach and am used to working with faces and what I can see faces. But one of the most important things I think is just their ability to play better because they can breathe. It’s really hard to breathe and play with a mask.
Paige Muir (8-2 v McKenzie Liu), Alisha Juneja (8-4 v Emilia Torresani) and Madison Whitcomb (8-0 v Lyric Wilson) won Bedford’s other singles victories. The Hanover double tandems of van Aalst-Miles at No.1 and Liu-St. Hilaire at No.2 threw challenges before losing 8-5 decisions.
Zheng and Junija of Bedford combined for a third 8-1 doubles loss to Wilson and Natalie Feyrer of Hanover.
Now is the final for Bedford.
They know the route.
Ace: As Zheng and St. Hilaire fought in their bachelorette party, Citron offered encouragement from an adjacent court. “You are amazing,” she told her teammate. “You are literally a May Zheng.” Rimshot, please. … Utell is not happy that the NHIAA is not hosting a state tournament in singles and doubles next week: “In my opinion, our seniors have been denied their opportunity, and that is an absolute disgrace. It’s an absolute parody for our sport, especially in a small state like New Hampshire. The extra turn of play for an open team tournament was the reason, Utell said. … Bedford meets Derryfield or Dover in the DI Finals at Dover High School on Friday. … Murray only loses two players – Miles and Wilson – at graduation.
Greg Fennell can be reached at [email protected] or 603-727-3226.