Early this season, Verona High School girls tennis beat Glen Ridge 4-1. Yesterday, Verona beat Glen Ridge again by the same score but with much bigger impact: The victory made Verona the winner of the North Jersey Section 2, Group 1 tennis sectionals, the first sectionals title for girls tennis since 2015.
“I told the girls, ‘you made history today’,” said Coach Jon Thai.
In yesterday’s match, Verona got wins at second singles, where Shaina Kogan defeated Sophia Appelbaum-Roth 6-4, 6-1; and at third singles, where Evelyn Kogan beat Tessa Rothman 6-0, 6-0. Verona’s first doubles team of Emily Baumgard and Madison Lipinski battled Jasmine Schaber and Siena Atkinson to a 6-3, 7-6 victory, while the second doubles team of Cassie Collucci and Alex Derderian dropped their first set before rallying to a 6-4, 6-4 win over Jillian Parker and Adina Foster. First singles Margot DaCosta fell to Riley O’Sullivan 6-1, 6-0.
Thai attributed the sectionals win to the rebuilding that has happened in VHS girls tennis since COVID truncated the fall 2020 season. “Evelyn Kogan, Shaina’s younger sister, came in as a freshman this year and has been an absolute rock for us at third singles,” he said. “Our first doubles team of Emily Baumgard and Maddie Lipinski and our second doubles team of Cassie Collucci and Alex Derderian have won so many matches for us. The bottom of our lineup has been the difference maker this season.”
Sectionals wasn’t Verona’s only big win this season. Earlier this fall, the team won the Super Essex Conference’s Liberty Division for the first time since 2016. SEC Liberty is the second competition tier in Essex County. Verona had won the title in the SEC Colonial Division, the third tier, in 2019.
Verona’s season isn’t over yet. On Thursday, the team travels to the Mercer County Tennis Center to play Glen Rock for the Group 1 championship. “Playing for the group championship is essentially playing for the title of the best group 1 program in New Jersey,” Thai noted. “We’ve never won a group championship yet.” Fingers crossed, ladies.
Photo: Kathleen Seubert