By ANDY KIRKALDY
MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Union High School girls’ tennis team kicked off the county’s high school spring sports season on Wednesday afternoon by hosting St. Johnsbury in a match won by the visiting Hilltoppers, 5-2.
The honors for the first official victory of the spring posted by local athletes went to the Tiger No. 2 doubles team of sophomores Sarah Higgins and Nicole Brown, who walked off with a convincing, 6-4, 6-1 decision over Minh Pham and Jamie Lee.
Brown put away many volleys at the net, and Higgins placed a number of angled groundstrokes out of the reach of her opponents as they cruised to the second-set victory.
Meanwhile, Tiger No. 1 Suzanne Weinstein was locked in a tight duel with her Hilltopper counterpart, Maya Sayarath. After Weinstein took the first set, 6-4, Sayarath’s steadier play early in the second set gave her a 4-3 lead.
But Weinstein started hitting solid forehand and backhand volleys and sprinkling in a few groundstroke winners. She seized control of the match to pull out the second MUHS win on the day with a 7-5 margin in the second set.
The Hilltoppers, an experienced squad that has the advantage of an indoor tennis facility, swept the rest of the matches.
The individual results were:
• At No. 2 singles, sophomore Abby Killorin lost to Kathi Thanner, SJ, 6-3, 6-1.
• At No. 3 singles, junior Alyssa Heyborne lost to Erin Kerr, SJ, 6-2, 6-0.
• At No. 4 singles, senior Natalie Herb lost to Haley Gordon-Martin, SJ, 6-2, 6-0.
• At No. 5 singles, senior Alexandra Miller lost to Linda Chardon, SJ, 6-0, 6-0.
• At No. 1 doubles, sophomores Zoe Miller and Jane McCabe lost to Sammi Branch and Aquena Kennerson, SJ, 6-0, 6-0.
Coach Sarah Harrison Lynn was happy with the way her team responded to the frigid air as well as the setback, and she noted many took the opportunity to work on their games when courts opened up.
“The girls all were very supportive of each other,” Lynn said. “Despite the snow flurries in the air and blustery wind everyone participated with enthusiasm.”
The Tigers are off until April 27, when they are scheduled to host Montpelier at 3:30 p.m.