Sheehy helps Cards down Derryfield to make girls tennis finals
MANCHESTER – Natalie Sheehy wasn’t used to this kind of attenion.
The Bishop Guertin High School No. 6 singles player hadn’t had the crowd of people around her court before Friday’s Divison I semifinal match vs. Derryfield.
But hers was the last singles match left, and if she could somehow manage to complete a comeback against the Cougars’ Ada Hu, the Cards would get the fifth point they would need to reach their first state championship match since 2013.
No pressure, right?
“It was a little nerve wracking, but it felt good to have my team here and everyghint, “ said Sheehy, who was down 6-2 but battled back to send the match to a tiebreaker, in which she ultimately prevailed, 9-8 (9-7). “It felt good, I liked having the support.”
And now the No. 3, 15-1 Cards, whose final tally was 7-2 over the defending champion Cougars, will take on No. 1 Bedford (16-0) in the title bout on Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Pinkerton Academy.
“That was incredible, a great match,” Cardinals coach Barry Ndinya said. “Both players played their heart out. It was just good to see that my player came out on top.
“It’s a tough Derryfield team. We new it was going to be tough, all the players were nervous, but they stepped up.”
Guertin was looking at the wins at the lower end of the ladder as key. The first Cardinal win came at No. 4 where Hannah Gilbertson bested Nancy Fortin 8-3. Then No. Claire Reynolds (8-4) and No. 2 Amy Maalouf (8-1) took care of business over Derryfield’s Abi Leonardi and Amma Place, respectively.
Derryfield salavaged a win at No. 3 with Miranda Shilling topping BG’s Katelyn Nichols, 8-3, but the Cards got their fourth point at No. 5 with Elizabeth Janiak topping Caroline Desmarais, 8-2. Janiak bounced back from a loss in the Nashua South quarterfinal.
Then all the attention was on Sheehy vs. Hu. Sheehy was actually two points away from sealing things in regulation, but Hu held serve to send it to a tiebreaker. Back and forth they went until Hu made two unforced errors to give Sheehy the win.
“(Sheehy) never gave up, she kept on fighting,” Derryfield coach Gus Moral said. “And our girl began to run out of gas. They played hard. The match could’ve gone either way, but a well deserved victory for BG.”
“Usually when she’s down big she kind of gets down on herself,” Ndinya said. “But today she stayed positive, she fought, she showed a lot of heart.”
“I was kind of just waiting for an unforced error, because (Hu) was consistent herself,” Sheehy said. “It feels really good, but I couldn’t have done it without them.”
The doubles were a formality as Guertin took two of three, but they may be crucial against Bedford as the Bulldogs swept them in their 6-3 regular season win over the Cards just last week. For the record, Friday the No. 1 team of Reynolds/Maalouf topped Leonardi/Place 8-2 and the Cards’ No.2 tandem of Nichols/Gilbertson won 8-3 over Shilling/Paige Grondon. Derryfield’s No. 3 duo of Fortin/Desmarais topped Sheehy/Margo Liakos, 8-4.
“We have one more match to go,” Ndinya said.