Thursday’s semifinals of the Group I state tennis tournament started out much the same as the sectionals on Tuesday: With a win by the Verona High School girls first doubles team. The rest of the match against Pennsville High School didn’t go Verona’s way, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.
Verona knew it was up against a powerhouse: Pennsville had been the Group I state champ for three years running going into Thursday’s match. But the 1st doubles team of Caroline Chivily and Briana Tedesco got things rolling by defeating Tori Hiles and Devon Hill 6-2, 6-0.
In singles, Ciarra Davison fought hard against Tori Nugent in 1st singles but eventually fell 6-4, 6-3. Brooke Coleman of Pennsville defeated Verona’s Jasmine Okafor 6-1, 6-1.
But then things got complicated. Verona’s second doubles team of Gabby Brehne and Allie Vaccaro won their first set 6-4, but lost their second to Jenny Chen and Megan Saxvanderweyden with a flip-flopped 4-6 score; the team had to face a tie breaker. Over on third singles, Verona sophomore Nell Karpinski lost her first set to Taylor Dobson, but rallied to take the second and was slated for a tie breaker. That would have worked in Verona’s favor, except that Verona’s second doubles set was declared a loss before third singles started its tie breaker. Karpinski’s set was declared a draw, leaving the final score 3.5-1.5.
“Pennsville was a tough opponent and we had a very competitive match,” said Verona coach Kelly Flynn. “The girls played hard and at times had to mix up their strategy to make sure they were able to stay in the game. I couldn’t be prouder of how they played and what they have accomplished.”
The Mercer courts served up an upset in the finals, however: Pennsville lost to Verona’s cross-county rival Glen Ridge, 4-1. It was Glen Ridge’s first Group I title since 2009.
Photos copyright Phillip Chivily. Used by permission.