MIDDLEBURY — In a rare meeting between the area’s two girls’ tennis programs, host Middlebury Union earned an 6-1 win over Otter Valley on Monday in a match that was the opener for both teams and was played in breezy, chilly conditions.
The Tigers have a number of key players back and have been able to practice at Middlebury Indoor Tennis, while the Division II Otters return just three starters and first-year coach Emily Lyons said they had been on the courts just once.
Given those circumstances and the fact that some matches were competitive, Lyons said she was happy with her team’s effort, which included a win at No. 4 singles by senior Danarose Weaver, who played doubles in 2013.
Junior Sarah Young, also moving up from doubles a year ago, also shrugged off a one-sided first set and nearly took the second set from Tiger No. 2 Marvie Avery, a three-year starter at singles for MUHS.
“I’m thrilled. The scores don’t necessarily reflect how they’re playing,” Lyons said. “There were a lot of deuces, and that’s something we can work on, closing out the match, closing out the set, closing out the point.”
MUHS coach Laura Rumbough is moving seniors Sonia Howlett and Sara Boe up from doubles to singles, to join co-captains Madeline Ganey and Avery, both juniors, while new players will fill out the No. 5 slot and the second doubles team. She said it will probably take some time for her team to hit its stride, although she believes a return to the D-I playoffs is realistic this spring.
“My impression is we have some work to do,” Rumbough said. “But I’m optimistic. I think we have some good potential. We definitely have some new players, but they’re athletically inclined, so I think within a couple more weeks of intensive practice and some instruction we’ll be fine.”
Ganey and Avery, who posted straight-set wins on Monday, should lead the way, Rumbough said.
“They’re ready to go, definitely, I think they’ve been playing a little bit,” she said.
Lyons said she shares a key goal with program founder Jim Samler, whom she replaced as coach this spring: Lyons would like to see the players stick with what she and many others consider a lifetime sport. On Monday, the Otters looked like they were progressing toward that target.
“That’s my No. 1 of four goals heading into a match — that they have fun,” Lyons said. “That’s what I hope they all are doing, and it seems like they are.”
Monday’s complete results were as follows:
In singles play:
At No. 1, Ganey (MUHS) defeated Caitlyn Curtis (OV), 6-1, 6-0.
At No. 2, Avery (MUHS) defeated Young (OV), 6-0, 6-4.
At No. 3, Howlett (MUHS) defeated Gabrielle Welch (OV), 6-1, 6-0.
At No. 4, Weaver (OV) defeated Boe (MUHS), 6-4, 6-3.
At No. 5, Dorothy Punderson (MUHS) defeated Jonna Keith (OV), 6-3, 6-2.
In doubles action:
At No. 1, Jesse Wulfman/Lindsay Wells (MUHS), defeated Sophie Wood/Brenna Coombs (OV), 6-1, 6-2.
At No. 2, Emma Castle/Charlotte Keathley (MUHS) defeated Ghislaine Robin/Brigid Enright (OV), 6-2, 6-3.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at email@example.com.