Geneva can wrap league title on Monday
By TOM HARRIS
GENEVA - In the late afternoon on Saturday, the tennis courts at Geneva Middle School were a sea of red. That was because, when the Northeastern Conference Tennis Tournament reached the championship round, Geneva, Edgewood and Jefferson were the only teams left. When play ended, the Eagles had regained the tournament championship and put themselves in the driver's seat of the NEC race.
"It's nice to have it back," Geneva coach Scott Torok said. "It's been our goal all along. With the way the tournament counts in the standings now, we knew we had to do well."
"It's disappointing not to be able to repeat," Edgewood coach Dave McCoy said. "But both our doubles teams and one singles player made it to the championship matches. I think we did pretty well. A lot of our girls weren't even on the JV radar last year. We're in the process of building again."
Geneva, which won four of the five events and was second in the other, finished with 48 out of a possible 50 points. Jefferson was second with 34 points and defending champion Edgewood placed third with 30 points. Lakeside followed with 18 points, Conneaut 12 and Harvey 8.
The tournament win didn't allow Geneva to reclaim the NEC championship they surrendered to Edgewood last year, but the Eagles took a big step toward that goal. With the tournament win and seven league victories, the Eagles have 80 points in the NEC standings. The Eagles can clinch the NEC Monday when they host Jefferson, which has two losses in the league.
"This is great for the girls," Jefferson coach Lou Murphy said of the tournament. "There was a lot of good tennis played here today."
The Eagles had things well in hand all day, and clinched the tournament title when freshman Courtney Thompson claimed the first-singles championship with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Edgewood's Jade Buhite.
"I didn't think I was playing all that well today," Thompson said. "But it all seemed to come together."
"I played pretty well," Buhite said. "But she played better."
Buhite had to play with a borrowed racquet after she tore the strings in both of hers while warming up for a second round match with Conneaut's Becky Betteridge. Buhite won that match, 6-0, 6-4.
"I don't know what happened," Buhite said of her damaged racquet.
The most dramatic match in the championship round, however, might have been the one the Eagles lost. Jefferson freshman Chelsea Jarrell outlasted the Eagles' Carol Ann Sterkenburg, to win the second-singles championship, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(7-3).
"In the second set, she just hit the ball really well deep, and I was too close," Jarrell said. "It kind of got away from me. But Coach Murphy told me to back up and just hit like I usually do."
"I thought I had her in the last set when I was up, 5-4," Sterkenburg said. "Then I had one shot that was just out."
The pressure took it's toll.
"I'm going to need some Advil," Jarrell said.
The Eagles and Falcons staged another tight battle at third singles, with Geneva's Kristen Fortune finally subduing Julia Mansfield, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6).
"I'm sweating," Murphy said after the day ended for his players.
Fortune was sweating too. In fact, the afternoon heat made her a little anxious.
"It got really hot out there, and I was trying to end it," Fortune said. "I was trying to make ESPN-type shots to finish it out, and it didn't work.
"I had to work on being calm and patient. I couldn't get down on myself, and I had to try and keep my head in the match. But (Mansfield) is a really good player, and she kept the ball in the play."
The Eagles swept the Warriors in the doubles championships. Emily Ernes and Kayla Tersigni defeated Edgewood's Ashley Campbell and Jamie Schilling, 4-6, 6-0, 6-2, in the first-doubles championship. And Amanda Privitera and Nichole Boruta teamed up at second doubles to defeat Connie Tate and Liz Walker, 6-2, 7-5.
Tersigni and Ernes played doubles together for the first time at the 2005 NEC Tournament and have been playing together ever since.
"(Alex) Stuetzer has helped us a lot in learning to play doubles," Tersigni said. "We've been waiting to win the NEC Tournament again. This feels good."
Privitera and Boruta teamed up this year.
"I played mostly singles before," Boruta said. "But I enjoy playing doubles. It's nice to have someone on the court with me."
Lakeside's Taylor Palmer finished third at third singles. She advanced by defeating Harvey's Ashley Galayda, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2, in the first round. Then she fell to Fortune in the second round, 6-2, 6-3, and defeated Edgewood's Renee Mattson, 8-4, in the third-place match.
Brittany Coccitto and Megan Merlene, Conneaut's first-doubles team, placed third. They began the day with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Lakeside's Chyni Coleman and Brittany Wilfong. They came up against Campbell and Schilling in the second round and lost, 6-2, 6-3, but rebounded in the third-place match with an 8-5 win over Jefferson's Kyndra Mott and Rebecca Luce.
Lakesha Ferguson provided Harvey with it's best performance, finishing third at second singles. She beat Conneaut's Kaylee Ely, 6-0, 6-0, and lost to Sterkenburg, 6-1, 6-4, before getting the best of Lakeside's Leona Rodabaugh, 8-6, in the third-place match.
Star Beacon Print Edition: 9/17/2006