Spring pg 11 4-11-19

Spring in New England means local high school athletic teams never know what kind of conditions they will face.
Cold, rain, sometimes snow, can all present yet another challenge to young athletes in addition to the competition against one another.
Wind was the complicating factor for the Woodstock Academy girls’ tennis team April 4.
The Centaurs raised their record to 1-1 with a 6-1 victory over Killingly, but it wasn’t easy with the wind gusting over 30 miles per hour on a regular basis.
“A couple of people struggled,” said Woodstock Academy girls’ and boys’ tennis head coach Ann Rathbone. “The wind was howling. Keeping the ball in was difficult, especially (for Killingly), they could not pull back. If you took a full swing, the ball was just gone.”
Fortunately for the Centaurs, they had just come off a 6-1 loss to defending Class M state champ, Joel Barlow, and that match may have steeled the nerves a bit.
“We knew we were a bit more ready for Killingly, having faced Barlow. That could be the toughest team we face all year,” said Rathbone.
The singles players are prevailed in straight sets.
Number one singles player Mari Ruggieri downed Sabrina Berard 6-1, 6-2; Morgan Bassett handled Alyssa Blade 6-2, 6-3; Hannah Darigan prevailed over Isabel Tang, 6-0, 6-0 and Rachel Holden bested Madison Rattray, 6-1, 6-1.
“They needed that sweep,” Rathbone said. “You always want them to play as hard as they can and a couple of them dialed it back a bit, but they had to with the wind.”
The Centaurs also captured two of the three doubles matches with junior Caitlin Sroczenski and freshman Adeline Smith holding court over Allison Levesque and Mackenzie Chatelle in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2 in No. 1 doubles.
The third doubles team of Izetta Asikainen and Emma Durand also posted a 6-0, 6-2 win over Julia Purcell and Taylyn Lemoine.
It was the duo of Sroczenski and Smith that caught Rathbone’s attention in the first week of play.
“I’m thinking that No. 1 combination is maybe set for the year – they play like a No. 1 team,” Rathbone said. “(Smith) has so little experience, but she plays like a No. 1 so why fool with it.”
Sroczenski and Smith had to rally to produce the only victory against Barlow.
They fell behind Claire Lamb and Kaela Klein who captured the first set, 6-3. But the Centaurs duo won the second, 6-2, and then survived a 7-5 tiebreaker to win the third set, 7-6.
“Unbelievable,” said Rathbone. “They played out of their minds. It was incredible to watch. That was a seasoned No. 1 doubles team. They knew exactly what they were doing and we have this freshman, who just started playing this year, making some unbelievable shots. It was the most encouraging part of the day.”
Holden battled at No. 4 singles where Olivia Sassman from Barlow barely held her off, 5-7, 6-4, 10-8.
Ruggieri, Bassett and Darigan all lost in straight sets.
“I felt like we were ready to play them and I was happy with some performances. I thought we could have done better, though. It wasn’t like we couldn’t hit with them, we were hitting with them. We just didn’t play some of our better tennis. I was just hoping for a closer result.”
Rathbone added she didn’t know if her team understood just how good the squad from Redding was.
“I don’t know if the kids really knew (that Barlow was a defending state champ), I mentioned it. I know the parents knew. I would rather see (Barlow) early because if we see them again, it might be later on in the state tournament. I don’t mind playing a tough team like that,” she said.
Boys’ Tennis
The weather also played some tricks on the Woodstock Academy boys’ tennis team.
The Centaurs were supposed to play Bacon Academy April 5, but had the match moved to April 11 due to the threat not only of rain, but ice and snow.
It meant the Centaurs had only one match in the opening week.
Fortunately for Woodstock Academy, it was a good one.
The Centaurs downed Montville on the road April 3, 7-0.
It wasn’t as easy as it sounds.
Two of the Centaurs singles players had to recover from opening set losses.
Matt Tiffany found himself down to Jason Chen of the Indians after falling, 6-3, in the first set. Tiffany was able to do so with a 7-5 victory in the second set and a 6-0 win in the third.
“Matt has never played a singles match. It was his first true singles match (in high school) so he’s still learning to play singles. He’s probably our best doubles player, but that’s where he is on the ladder. Hopefully, he will have a lot of wins,” Rathbone said.
Riley Douglas, at No. 2 singles, was in similar straits when he lost to Ryan Gallagher in the first set, 6-2. He also rallied for a pair of 6-3 victories to win his match.
Luigi Boselli celebrated his birthday with a straight set 6-2, 6-2 win over David Baukus.
“Luigi is from Italy and he’s going to do wonders for us. He is an incredibly great kid to have on the team. We’re really enjoying him and I expect him to get some wins for the team,” Rathbone said.
David Fleck won his match by shutout, 6-0, 6-0, but Rathbone knows that will not always be the case. “David is going to face a couple of tough players, like from East Lyme and Riley is right there, too. We’re pretty solid. I like our chances of doing better,” she said. Aidan Stewart and Stefan Chervenkova won in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3, over Jae Seung Kim and CheukHei Chan. Connor Quinn and Jai Abrams were challenged by Tony Lin and Ethan Thomas in the first set, but they prevailed 7-5 and won the second much easier, 6-2. Evan Haskins and Joe Zhou downed Aaron Nonalya and Aiden Meislitzer, 6-1, 6-1, to conclude the doubles sweep for the Centaurs.
Marc Allard
Sports Information Director
The Woodstock Academy


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