Aakansha Sharma, a sophomore playing third singles, made short work of her opponent in Springside Chestnut Hill Academy’s season debut last Friday. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

If achieving victory in the inaugural event at a new athletic facility is a good omen for a school, then last Friday’s developments at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy bode well for the Blue Devils.

The girls tennis team christened their new seven-court home venue with a match against New Jersey’s Stuart Country Day School, and in the three singles and two doubles bouts in play, SCH dropped nary a match, prevailing in straight sets all down the line to win 5-0.

“It’s my third year coaching the team, but it sort of feels like my first since we’re getting to play on our brand new courts,” said head coach Ashley Vandegrift, a math teacher at SCH and a 1992 graduate of the old Springside School.

The Blue Devils’ performance in last week’s opener was also encouraging because of the fact that graduation ceremonies last June took away three of the top four racquetwomen from the 2012 tennis team ladder.

The third singles and first doubles players for Springside Chestnut Hill were the first to wrap up their matches against Stuart Country Day in the 2013 opener. Number three Aakansha Sharma, a tenth-grader, breezed through at 6-2, 6-0, and at first doubles a 6-1, 6-3 victory was recorded by Blue Devils senior Natalie Rohner and her sophomore partner, Frederica Cristofanilli.

Although all of the bouts were two-set affairs, there were many long points and overall the competition ran late into the afternoon. Next to finish were the second doubles duos, and here SCH junior Sara Mathes and senior Hannah Brazier bagged a 6-1, 6-2 win.

At first singles, the host team’s Rosie Nagele went to 7-5 to capture the opening set. The steady senior was at her best when simply focusing on putting the ball back over the net and wearing down her rival. Her first serve started clicking during the second set, and here she won by a convincing 6-3 score.

Match point occurred around quarter-to-six, right at the same time that the second singles match concluded on an adjacent court. Blue Devils number two Sarah Schacht is also a senior, and she helped complete the SCH sweep by winning 6-2, 6-3.

After playing George School, SCH will have a match this Thursday against Germantown Friends, a 5-2 winner over neighboring Penn Charter last week.

Five days after hosting GFS, the Blue Devils open up in the Inter-Ac by taking on longtime league powerhouse Episcopal Academy.

In league encounters, where a three-singles, four doubles format is followed, Coach Vandegrift will start out with senior Sydney Weiss and freshman Victoria Walters at third doubles, and freshman Melanie Graves and senior Corrine Leard in the fourth pairing.

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