Hurricanes win another 4-3 match
If Liberty tennis coach Chris Conrad’s heart stopped a few times last Monday, it wouldn’t have been the first time, or the second, third, fourth, fifth, or sixth time.
It was the seventh time that the Hurricanes found themselves in what ended as a 4-3 match and won it against Freedom last Monday at Liberty.
“It’s true!” said Conrad. “It’s up there in terms of I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a team go 4-3 in different spots. Everyone this year has played hero.
“It’s the most unique team because we could win a match, 7-0, we could lose a match, 0-7, or we could win a match, 4-3, or lose a match, 3-4, in every single match this year because we have very competitive kids and the will and the drive to drive home a victory.”
Last Monday’s hero was Margeaux Donchez whose match at three singles with Dymea Schippers went to three sets and was the last to finish near dark.
“We’re both like walls, which means we’re super consistent,” said Donchez. “She could return any shot I gave her, and she could return all the shots, so that’s why our rallies were so long.”
Conrad noted that there was a 79 ball rally in their 3 1/2 hour match.
“It was definitely a fight, and she had to grind for everything,” said Conrad. “We struggled getting the ball to [Dymea] short, but of course Margeaux’s favorite shot is a deep ball, so it was a struggle at first to try to adapt to get that ball short and challenge [Dymea] because she wasn’t moving up and back as well as she was laterally.”
Schippers won the first set, 6-2, but Donchez came back to win the second, 6-4.
“Margeaux was awesome. She listened the entire time I was coaching her and was eager to kind of get every point over as quickly as she could,” Conrad laughed. “Margeaux was smart enough, at times, to give her a short ball back, so that way, it forced her to be in an odd position.”
Donchez won the third set by the same 6-4 score, but it was game 7 that seemed to be the turning point when Donchez won, 41-0, and as the time neared 7 p.m., all eyes were on her and Schippers.
“I’m very happy,” said Donchez afterward. “I’m not really used to attention like that. I don’t like when people watch me, but they’re a great team, and they were great at cheering today. I think I just wanted it so bad. I almost started crying because I was so exhausted.”
At number one singles, Liberty’s Veronica Lynn defeated Isabella Barberis, 6-0, 6-2, but Freedom’s Isabella Szmodis defeated Angie Ronca at two singles, 6-1, 6-2.
“It was very challenging, but I was kind of prepared and I was really trying. I think I was just hitting shots she wasn’t getting to, and I did have some good serves today. I could hear my coach [Mark Sigmon] saying good job, and I think that helped,” said Szmodis. “I think today, especially since Liberty is our rival, that we were really hoping we could win this.”
In doubles play, Freedom’s Kelsey Diaz and Kristen Anderson won at first doubles over Elise Kney and Hermani Patel, 8-4.
“Prior to the match, I knew that the 50-50 matches heading in were three [singles], two [doubles], four [doubles], and ironically, our three doubles ended up going three sets, which I didn’t foresee,” said Conrad.
Freedom’s Olivia Taylor and Keri Saulino defeated Sruti Tekumalla and Emily Masters at second doubles, 6-3, 6-3, but Liberty’s Shivani Patel and Gabby Palermo pulled out their match against Gabriella Barnot and Anna Isbell, 6-1, 4-6, 6-1, at third doubles.
“It was rough. They were amazing players,” said Palermo. “They hit some cross court ones and some very short ones, and some overheads, so it was hard to get to the ball.”
Coach Conrad told Palermo and Patel to play smart tennis, not hard tennis.
“Shivani’s volleys were really good today, and so were her serves,” Palermo said. “My forehand was mainly better than my volleys today.”
At fourth doubles, Liberty’s Jess Long and Aeman Ali defeated Annika Katchur and Eesha Gudoor 6-3, 6-3.
The Hurricanes ended their regular season with a 6-0 victory over Palisades on Wednesday.