by Tom Utescher
The Penn Charter Quakers won the top two singles bouts, but the host Tigers of Germantown Friends School captured three doubles contests and took a 4-3 decision in a non-league tennis match last Friday. GFS also won at third singles and had the team victory wrapped up at 4-2 before Penn Charter prevailed in a tiebreaker at third doubles.
Within its league, Germantown Friends follows a three singles/two doubles match format, but for this non-league meeting the Tigers agreed to employ the three singles/four doubles arrangement which is used by Penn Charter in the Inter-Ac League. To save time, each match consisted of a single pro set (first player to capture eight games wins).
GFS had opened the season on Wednesday with a 1-6 loss to the Academy of Notre Dame, but the top two players on the team ladder were not able to compete, causing the Tigers to reshuffle their line-up. Senior number one Joanna Booth, a top-20 player in the Girls 18’s division of the USTA Middle States section, was nearing the end of her recuperation from a stress fracture, and was expected to return in the middle of this month.
Booth did not play in either of the two matches last week, but after freshman Helen Ruger was forced to miss the Notre Dame encounter, the talented youngster was back in action for the Tigers on Friday, playing up at first singles.
The GFS players were happy to learn of Penn Charter’s 6-1 victory over Shipley School two weeks earlier. The Tigers have met the Shipley Gators in the finals of the Friends Schools League team tournament in each of the last three seasons, with Germantown taking the title in 2011 and 2013. In the recent match against PC, Shipley had been missing standout Jill Nehrbas (ranked just below Booth in the Middle States standings), but the Quakers had won with room to spare.
Last Friday, Charter’s initial singles victory came in the second spot, where sophomore Natalie Williams overcame GFS senior Ann Carpenter, 8-5.
The final score was not quite as close at first singles (8-4 for PC), but the match ran considerably longer due to a number of sustained rallies.
Here, Quakers junior Danielle Yamplosky, a ranked player in the Middle States Girls 16’s, eventually overcame Ruger of the host team.
Tigers junior Sophie Bunson spared her squad from a PC singles sweep by winning a close third-singles struggle. Not realizing they should’ve gone to a tiebreaker when the score reached 7-7, Bunson and Quakers eighth-grader Lela Soy battled up to 8-8 before beginning the breaker. Soy proceeded to go up 5-2, but Bunson fought back to win, 8-6. It was this match that gave the Tigers their fourth win, clinching the team victory.
Things had progressed smoothly for Germantown in the doubles flights. At number one, senior Emily Abbott and freshman Caroline Cavanaugh took an 8-5 decision from another senior/freshman combo, PC’s Emily Barkann and Chloe Masters. There was also an 8-5 verdict at fourth doubles, where Tigers juniors Eliza Cohen and Eleanor Avril overcame Charter senior Jess Soens and sophomore Jenny Reisman.
Germantown’s second doubles duo, junior Emily Fichlander and freshman Lindsay Golden, prevailed 8-6 against their guests, senior Rebecca Johns and sophomore Olivia Bagar.
The last match out on the courts was the third doubles clash involving GFS junior Isabel Schmidt and freshman Alice Daeschler and two PC ninth-graders, Meredith Bernstein and Lizzy Durbin. All the other players gathered round to watch the end of this one, since everyone else had finished playing and the team victory had already been claimed by the Tigers.
Down 5-6, Bernstein and Durbin held serve in the next game and then broke the Tigers’ service to go up 7-6. Schmidt and Daeschler then broke back to send the match into a tiebreaker at 7-7.
Early on, GFS went down by three points, then came back to tie at 4-4. The PC pair then brought up a match point at 6-4, but the Tiger tandem rallied to go ahead 7-6.
After an exchange of points, GFS was again playing for the match, but couldn’t capture another point. Charter won the next three exchanges to pull out a 10-8 victory, with the actual match point coming on an errant groundstroke by the Tigers.
Germantown Friends opens league play on September 23 in a meeting with archrival Shipley, and on the same day Penn Charter launches its Inter-Ac campaign by facing Agnes Irwin.