MANCHESTER, NH — The last time the Derryfield girls tennis team put together an undefeated regular season (2020), the Cougars were denied the chance at a State Division I championship by the COVID pandemic.
This time, the Cougars’ dream of a perfect championship season was ended by Dover High. The Green Wave claimed their first-ever state championship with a 6-3 victory, Thursday evening at Southern New Hampshire University.
Dover (17-0), the No. 2 seed in the tournament, won four of six singles matches, then took two of three doubles matches to lock up the convincing win.
“We had hoped to go at least 3-3 in the singles matches. That would have put us in good position. But when they won four, it gave them a cushion going into the doubles,” said veteran Derryfield Coach Gus Moral. “When there are two undefeated teams, someone is going to end up losing and be disappointed. But I told (my players), ‘you fought, you played hard and I’m really proud of you.'”
For top-seeded Derryfield (16-1), it was a heartbreaking end to another exceptional season for the program. The Cougars’ core group of four seniors end their career with two undefeated regular seasons, two trips to the state final and a trip to the state semifinals.
“They’ve had a great run. They’ve achieved a lot,” said Moral. “We’re losing four good players. But I’m looking forward to coming back next year and building again. We had 35 players this year, 16 who saw action in matches. We’re in good shape.”
The championship final between Dover and Derryfield matched the last two D-I runners up. Both fell victim to Bedford during the Bulldogs’ three-peat.
Derryfield freshman sensation Sophia Correnti continued her brilliant season with a dominant 8-4 win over Dover’s Taylor Wilson. Correnti improved to 16-1 on the season and is seeded No. 2 in the State Girls Singles Tournament, starting today (June 4) at SNHU. Correnti’s only loss this season has come at the hands of Shu Grasso, of Merrimack, the No. 1 seed. The first three rounds of the tournament will be June 4. The semifinals and finals will be Tuesday, June 7.
Against Dover, Derryfield senior co-captain Julia Hardy also picked up an impressive victory at No. 2 singles. Hardy meticulously picked apart Dover’s Joci Faasen, 8-3.
“It was a classic Julia match. Her consistency, her mental toughness was just too much for the other girl,” said Moral. “She has great concentration and awareness, attacking at the right moment to win a point.”
Hardy won’t be playing in the state singles tournament, as the opening rounds conflict with Derryfield’s June 4 graduation ceremony.
Unfortunately for Derryfield, Correnti and Hardy’s wins were the only points the Cougars could pick up at singles. Dover got victories from Tory Vitko at No. 3 (8-5 over junior Sophie Brown), Grace Hitchcock at No. 4 (8-2 over senior co-capt. Madison Molina), Emilia Ross at No. 5 (8-3 over senior Phoebe Blake) and Riya Ramdev at No. 6 (8-1 over senior Maya Marsden).
Correnti and Hardy teamed to give Derryfield a victory at No. 1 doubles, 8-6 over Wilson and Faasen. But Dover got victories at both No. 2 doubles (Vitko and Ross defeated Molina and Brown, 8-4) and No. 3 doubles (Ramdev and Hitchcock defeated Blake and Anna Indoni, 8-2).
Correnti and Hardy will be back in action as the No. 2 seed in the State Girls Doubles Tournament. The first three rounds of the tournament will be Sunday, June 5. The semi-finals and finals will be Thursday, June 9.