Derryfield Girls Capture State Crown in Dramatic Fashion

Derryfield Girls Capture State Crown in Dramatic Fashion

By Ryan O’Connor, Manchester Ink Link Writer, Thursday, May 30, 2024

MANCHESTER, NH – For the third-straight year, it came down to the final match on a doubles court.

Unlike the last two seasons, however, it was the top-ranked Derryfield School girls tennis team emerging victorious to seal the state championship, earning a 5-4 victory over second-ranked Bedford Wednesday at Southern New Hampshire University’s tennis courts.

“It means a lot because we were there (the last two years) and anytime you make it to the final, anything can happen,” said Derryfield head coach Gustavo Moral. “And last year, we came close, so this year, the girls had that in mind and they were mentally prepared. They worked hard all season and certainly it couldn’t be any better than coming down to a tiebreaker … They fought all the way and yes, my heart was racing until the very end.

“Tennis is the only sport in Division I for a school the size of Derryfield, and the fact they are in the top tier of teams in girls tennis, I think it means a lot to the school, it means a lot to the program and certainly, individually, it means a lot to the girls who have been part of the program,” he said. “They’re really supportive of one another, and they’re fighters … what more can you ask?”

Of course, winning that last contest is the icing on the cake.

And how sweet it was for Derryfield senior Annabelle Crotty, who combined with Sofia Koshy to win a tiebreaker in No. 2 doubles, 9-8 (7-2), a match that also broke a 4-4 tie for the team’s decisive fifth win.

“It was very important,” said Crotty. “Last year, we were so close and we lost, and doubles was one of the deciding factors, so (Koshy and I) have been together for two years and winning this time meant the world to us … I’m very proud of this team.”

Derryfield’s No. 1, Sophia Correnti cruised in her singles match, 8-0, over Riley Novak, while No. 5 Pola Jankowska edged Elise Flynn, 9-7, and No. 6 Sarina Punjabi defeated Anna Diaz, 8-5.

Koshy, Crotty and Charlotte Smith fell in No. 2, 3 and 4 singles by identical 8-4 scores to Lucy Novak, Kaylee Raff and Anna Johnson, respectively, sending the team contest to doubles tied at three apiece.

There, all three courts proved just as competitive as singles, with Correnti and Smith pulling away late for an 8-5 win on the top court. Minutes later, Jankowska and Lucy Yakola were edged, 9-7, before all eyes turned to the second court where Koshy and Crotty conceded a 7-3 advantage before buckling down late to earn the pivotal victory via tiebreaker.

“I think we have to give credit to Bedford,” said Moral. “They came to play. They came to fight. It was tight all along  … it was really a fight all the way. We were serving for the match in No. 3 doubles and they came back and won it, and then (in No. 2 doubles) we were up and just had to change our positions a little bit. Frankly, we were a little stationary with our two-back (approach) so then we went back to one up, one back, and that changed the dynamics, but definitely give credit to Bedford.”

Despite the loss, Bedford head coach Jenna LaBarre said she was ecstatic to see her team play to their potential against the undefeated Cougars (17-0), who served Bedford (14-1) its lone loss of the season, a 7-2 setback on May 3.

“I believed a bunch of those matches could go either way, so I just kept telling them what they needed to believe, because tennis is really just a mental game,” she said. “I kept telling them to keep fighting and every single one of them, not just the two girls at the end, listened to that and they did great, they all fought and I couldn’t be more proud.”

Now, the Cougars bid farewell to Crotty and Smith, who graduate as champions, but the team is well positioned  to defend its crown next season, as Yakola and Punjabi should each have the opportunity to play more, and No. 8, Meredith MacWilliam, also appears poised to compete regularly on the starting ladder.

In Other News