by Tom Utescher
Last Friday the racquetwomen of Mount St. Joseph Academy sought to avenge an early league loss to Villa Maria (1-4), but the host Magic couldn’t quite get over the hump, losing in the final match of the day to fall to the Hurricanes once more, this time 2-3.
Villa came away with a record of 8-2 in Athletic Association of Catholic Academies competition, with both of its losses coming against league leader Gwynedd Mercy. Mount St. Joe has lost once to Gwynedd and Nazareth Academy, and last week’s second setback against Villa made the Magic 5-4 within the AACA, and 6-4 overall.
Friday’s encounter ultimately turned into a marathon, with the last match finishing up in the gathering darkness at 7:10 PM. This was largely due to the fact that the Mount still has only four courts on campus, one fewer than the number of official matches played.
The fifth contest, therefore, can’t begin until one of the first four is completed. In this case, it was number one singles which was the first match to conclude. Here, MSJ junior Betsy Napolitano was defeated by Hurricanes senior Alex Cattie, 6-2, 6-1. Napolitano has had to cope with the pressure of playing the top spot this fall since the Magic’s projected number one, junior Morgan Weiss, was forced to forego the entire season due to an ankle injury.
The only seniors in the Mount St. Joseph line-up, first-doubles partners Katie Moses and Krista Goebel, evened things up for the home team in the overall score with their 6-3, 6-4 victory over a visiting twosome made up of senior Amber Denham and sophomore Allie Monaco.
For a time, the Mounties enjoyed a 2-1 advantage in the team score, because around the same time as the first doubles bout wrapped up, the Magic also notched a straight-sets win at the second singles position. In this match, Belin Mirabile’s put together a pair of 6-3 sets to overcome a fellow junior, Danielle Rufus of Villa Maria.
Briefly, it appeared that the Mount racquetwomen would be able to avenge their August 29 loss out at Villa, since the first set also went their way in the third singles skirmish. An 11th-grader for the Magic, Emily Christine, took a 6-2 decision in the opening frame, but VMA senior Haley Noll rebounded to secure the second set at 6-1.
This match ran the longest of any of the initial four contests that started the proceedings, developing into a lob-fest that tested the patience of the participants. Noll prevailed in the third round, 6-2, tying the overall team tally at 2-2.
The juniors playing second doubles for the Mount, Nicolette Sommar and Colleen Burns, couldn’t take the court until the first singles match was over, and their first set took some time as they ground out a 7-5 win. Visitors Cailee Gordinier (a senior) and Reagan Hatcher (a sophomore) regrouped and locked up the second set at 6-1, forcing a third set as daylight was already beginning to fade.
After Villa went up 2-0, Sommar and Burns came back to 1-2, but they only picked up one more game as the visiting tandem took the set, 6-2, and helped the Hurricanes carry the day.