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A Win, And A Loss, As Tennis’ Stellar Season Ends

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Verona High School girls tennis hadn’t been to a state Group 1 championship since 2006 but, on their return visit on Thursday, they made every stroke count.

In the Group semifinals, the girls defeated Glen Rock 3-2 on a third set tiebreaker by the 1st doubles team of Emily Baumgard and Madison Lipinski. In the Group final against New Providence, there were third set tiebreaker wins again, this time by Margot DaCosta at 1st singles and Evelyn Kogan, at 3rd singles, but they were not enough to give Verona the Group title this year.

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Coach Jon Thai said Verona was very evenly matched against Glen Rock at all five positions, and Kogan and DaCosta quickly put Verona up 2-0. Then Verona’s 2nd doubles team of Cassie Collucci and Alex Derderian lost 6-3, 6-4. But Shaina Kogan, Verona’s 2nd singles player, and the 1st doubles team of Emily Baumgard and Madison Lipinski were still on the court, playing tiebreakers. The winner needed to be the first to 10 points, and win by 2. Shaina Kogan lost in her tiebreaker 8-10, but Baumgard and Lipinski stayed the course and came up with a decisive 10-5 win.

“There were some tense moments with disputed line calls,” Thai said, “but our girls remained level-headed and came through when we needed them most. To win pretty convincingly in the match tiebreaker showed their resolve.”

The Group final against New Providence was rematch of sorts because New Providence was also Verona’s first scrimmage this season. “We had lost that scrimmage 1-4,” Thai noted, “so I knew if we were to run into them again, it would be an uphill climb.”

Verona’s 1st doubles fell 6-4, 6-4, and the 2nd doubles pair fell 6-4, 6-3. Shaina Kogan also lost her match 6-4, 6-0. These losses gave New Providence enough points to secure the Group 1 title, but Verona kept on playing–and playing hard. DaCosta and Evelyn Kogan each came back from a set down to take their match in three sets.

“I couldn’t be prouder of this group of young ladies,” Thai said. “Since we beat Glen Rock in the Group semifinal, and they were the North 1 Group 1 Sectional winner, I told the girls we could claim the title of ‘The Queens of the North.’ I don’t know how many of them watched ‘Game of Thrones,’ but I thought it’d be a pretty cool title to have.”

VHS girls tennis finished with a 13-8 record and was 8-6 in conference. “It was an unforgettable season,” Thai added. “These girls represented our school and our community with class the entire season.”

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