Germantown Friends senior Hannah Ceisler won at third singles to clinch a team victory over Springside Chestnut Hill last Thursday. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Two undefeated tennis teams from the area met last Thursday afternoon at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, where the Blue Devils hosted the Tigers of Germantown Friends School.

GFS arrived without its regular second singles player, Chestnut Hill native Olivia Feichter. A squash standout who has played on multiple U.S. Junior World Championships teams, Fiechter was away on an official recruiting visit to Harvard University.

Her absence actually made Thursday’s match at SCH very competitive, and in the end it was her fellow senior Hannah Ceisler, a doubles player who had been bumped up to third singles, who prevailed in a three-set marathon to give the visitors a 3-2 victory.

The Tigers ascended to a 4-0 season record, with all of their victims coming from the Inter-Ac League. They started out with road wins at Germantown Academy (4-3) and Penn Charter (5-2) before opening at home with a 3-2 decision against Baldwin School. Baldwin had shut out the Tigers a year earlier, but with the teams locked up at 2-2 this time, sophomore Sophie Bunson pulled out a victory to clinch it for GFS.

SCH had already played one Friends School League opponent, blanking the George School, 5-0. Earlier, the Blue Devils had turned in the same score in their season opener against New Jersey’s Stuart Country Day School.

With Thursday’s match taking place at SCH, the normal protocol would’ve been for the teams to follow the three singles, four doubles match format employed by the Inter-Ac.

However, shorthanded GFS did not have a full complement of varsity players to fill 11 spots, so it was decided to employ the three-two structure used by the FSL, with a third doubles bout played strictly as an exhibition match.

The junior number one for the Tigers, Joanna Booth, also played in the top spot for the team back in her freshman year, suffering just one loss and ultimately avenging that early setback late in the 2011 season. Last year, she chose to forego team competition in order to participate in a number of Middle States sectional tournaments and other USTA events. This fall, she’s back at the top of the ladder for Germantown, although she will still play in some outside tourneys.

Her rival on Thursday, SCH senior Rosie Nagele, put up a battle in a number of long rallies, but Booth still won convincingly, 6-0, 6-1. The Tigers’ Bunson, moving up to second singles, gained momentum during her bout and overcame another Blue Devils senior, Sarah Schacht, 6-4, 6-1.

In the first of the doubles matches to be completed, the host team picked up a victory as senior Natalie Rohner and sophomore Federica Cristofanilli won 6-4, 6-3 at first doubles over GFS senior Emma Clark and junior Ann Carpenter. Usually, Clark plays first doubles with her classmate, Ceisler.

In a hotly contested opening set at second doubles, junior Sara Mathes and senior Hannah Brazier of the host team eventually edged out visiting senior Nicoline Arlet and junior Emily Abbott, 7-6 (7-4 in the tiebreak). The Blue Devils’ duo then took control in the second set, winning 6-1 to tie the overall team score at 2-2.

The two third singles players remained on the court for some time after this, as everyone else gathered around to watch. Germantown’s Ceisler had breezed in the opening set, 6-1, but SCH sophomore Aakansha Sharma bounced back to capture the second round, 6-2. After Ceisler went up 4-1 in the third, Sharma extended the match by winning a few more games, but the GFS senior eventually prevailed, 6-3.

The official winning score was 3-2, and even if the teams had followed a seven-match format, the Tigers would have been in good shape thanks to their performance at third doubles. Here, in the exhibition match, junior Abby Clauson-Wolf and sophomore Eliza Cohen won two 6-1 sets from senior Sydney Weiss and freshman Victoria Walters of Springside Chestnut Hill.

MORE TIGER TRIUMPHS – Next door to the SCH tennis complex, the GFS girls soccer team was in action the same afternoon, leveling its season record at 2-2 with a 4-0 victory over the host Blue Devils. Sophomore Sarah Walker opened the scoring, netting the gamewinner and later earning an assist on another Tiger tally.

All the goals were up on the board by halftime, with juniors Greta Meyer and Taryn Millbourne and freshman Caroline Caraballo each filling the net. In goal, senior Caroline Myran started and then was relieved 10 minutes into the second half by junior Schuyler Alig, with each keeper making two saves in the shutout. Injury-plagued Springside Chestnut Hill slipped to 0-3 on the season.

The Germantown Friends field hockey team had to battle considerably harder to notch a “W” on the same afternoon, winning at Penn Charter in overtime, 2-1. Freshman standout Samantha Bruttomesso-Clarke scored both goals for the Tigers, receiving an assist on her gamewinner in OT from sophomore Abigail Gard. GFS improved to 3-1, all in non-league games.

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