by Tom Utescher
As spectators rooted for tennis players from host Germantown Friends School and visiting Springside Chestnut Hill Academy at last Thursday’s non-league match, you had to pay strict attention to determine which player was being cheered on.
Between the two teams, there were one Savannah, one Anna, and three girls named Hannah on hand, producing a phonetic frenzy of similar sounds emerging from the mouths of onlookers.
Actually, GFS senior Savannah Smith was watching – but not playing – in this particular match. The bout was played in the three-singles, two doubles format that the Friends schools follow in their official league matches, and Smith usually sees action in pairs play when a three/four line-up (as in the Inter-Ac League) is employed.
Auditory issues aside, the tennis itself was entertaining, and the overall outcome was not determined until the final match was completed, sealing a 3-2 victory for the host Tigers.
One of the two Hannahs playing for the SCH Lions, senior Hannah Baxter, was overcome in the first singles match by Germantown junior Olivia Fiechter, 6-0, 6-1. The scores were reversed at second singles, where a 6-1, 6-0 victory went to SCH’s Jennie Lukoff, who was playing against fellow senior Anna Bezahler.
In a closer contest the other two Hannahs, both juniors, went head to head at third singles. Here, SCH’s Brazier got past GFS’s Ceisler, 6-4, 6-2.
Four more 11th-graders were featured in the second doubles bout, where the Tiger tandem of Nicoline Arlet and Emma Clark conquered visitors Sarah Schacht and Nina Nalle, 6-1, 6-0.
The third singles and first doubles matches were the last two to finish, and Brazier’s victory for Springside Chestnut Hill tied the team score at 2-2. In the doubles encounter, GFS seniors Lauren Shinn and Ameena McKnight were pitted against Lions freshmen Federica Cristofanilli and Aakanksha Sharma. Cristofanilli had already been a promising middle school player back in seventh grade, but she was out of action for medical reasons last fall.
She and Sharma put up a good battle in their opening set before bowing to the Germantown Friends upperclassmen, falling 6-7 with a 5-7 tiebreaker. The duo for the host school came on strong in the second round, though, winning 6-2 to clinch the team victory.
“We changed our mindset,” explained Shinn, whose partner McKnight added, “We were more consistent in the second set.”
The outcome resulted in a record of 3-1 for the Tigers. Their lone loss had come against powerful Baldwin School, a club which defeated the Tigers 7-0 and also won by the same score in its Girls Inter-Ac League opener against Springside Chestnut Hill. The Lions (1-3, 0-1 league) had fallen to Friends Central, 2-3, and had picked up their win against George School, 5-0.