(April 5, 2013) The Stephen Decatur girls’ and boys’ tennis teams narrowly edged out the Worcester Prep Mallards on March 27, when the cross-town rivals faced off for the first time this season.
The Seahawks came out on top of both match-ups, 4-3.
The girls competed on Worcester’s courts in Berlin. Decatur seniors Emmalee Murrell and Tori Whigham won their second and third singles matches, respectively, 8-5. Prep sophomore Tatjana Kondraschow shut out her first singles opponent 8-0 and freshman Sonja Walker earned an 8-3 victory at fifth singles.
Prep senior Parker Kellam and junior Lydia Pritchard, both team captains, took their first doubles match 8-6.
Decatur’s second doubles team, juniors Annie James and Valerie Petsche, edged out their competitors 8-6 to tie the competition at 3-3 with the fourth singles match still under way.
Decatur senior Lexi Ashton and Worcester Prep junior Claire Stickler went head-to-head at fourth singles. Seahawks Coach Jamie Greenwood said Ashton trailed 0-3, but she fought her way back. Ashton came out on top 8-6 to secure the victory for Decatur.
“She was playing a seed ahead of where she normally does (fifth singles) and she handled the pressure very well,” Greenwood said of Ashton.
“Under the conditions we were facing, with the cold, wind and some rain, I think we did well,” he said.
This is Greenwood’s fifth season as head coach. His record against Worcester Prep is now 2-7.
Prep Coach Cyndee Hudson also thought the Lady Mallards played well.
“I’m really pleased and proud of the girls. We were in every match and for four [players], it was their first singles experience,” Hudson said. “They were very nervous and excited. They did a great job for the first match of the season and they see where they could improve and do better next time.”
At the Ocean City Tennis Center on 61st Street, Decatur senior captains, Tim VanVonno and Joe Iacona, won their second and third singles matches, respectively, 8-6 and 8-2. VanVonno broke his racket during the match and had to borrow Iacona’s spare. Junior John Niedfeldt took his fourth singles match 8-4.
Prep senior captain Tom Thornett logged an 8-3 victory at first singles.
“Tommy Thornett played one of his smartest matches of the past two years at No. 1,” said Coach Keith Coleman. “Tommy had to be patient and work at building points, which he did consistently. He seemed very relaxed and confident…”
Decatur junior Zach Elmer and Worcester sophomore Erik Zorn battled at fifth singles. Zorn trailed 6-4 at one point, but fought back to win 9-7.
“Erik Zorn is an amazing competitor. He doesn’t have the tennis background that some of the other players have, but he uses his superior athletic ability to grind out a match,” Coleman said.
The Mallards first doubles team of senior London Walker and sophomore Chris Choy won 8-2.
Decatur and Worcester each had three victories with only the second doubles contest remaining. Due to some absences, the Mallards had to forfeit the match to freshmen Seahawks Logan Romberger and Christian Beres.
“It’s always fun playing the Prep school because all the kids know each other,” said Coach Steve Berquist. “I thought we played really well. We seemed a little more comfortable with the wind [than the Mallards].”
Added Coleman, “I feel that some of the players seemed to be intimidated by the cold and windy conditions and they were clearly outplayed in terms of consistency. Some of that is just shaking off the rust, but some of it is an attitude that you bring to the court every day.”
The two schools are scheduled to compete again on Friday, April 26.