Warriors rally in doubles to eliminate South
By TOM KING
NASHUA – There’s a rule that Nashua High School South girls tennis coach Gigi Ferris always follows in a close match.
"You always want to win that fifth singles," she said, "because you never know what can happen in doubles."
The Panthers took only four of the six singles matches in their Division I quarterfinal on Wednesday against Winnacunnet, and what happened in doubles was unexpected: a Warrior sweep, a 5-4 visitors win that stunningly ended fourth-seeded South’s season at 12-3.
In winning, Winnacunnet avenged a 5-4 loss to South back in early April during which they had dropped two of three doubles to lose. The No. 5 Warriors (12-3) advance to Friday’s semifinals at Bedford.
"They just really wanted to win," Warriors coach Kathleen Rhoades said. "They haven’t made it past the quarterfinals since 1999, and they had it on their mind. It was just pure determination."
Especially in the decisive No. 2 doubles match. Down 4-2 after singles, the Warriors had evened things up as the No. 1 doubles team of Melina Minichello and Alison Taylor defeated South’s tandem of Katelyn Griswold and Sarah Drake, 8-4. At No. 3 doubles, the South team of Victoria Ziolek and Sarah Allison fell 8-5 to the Warrior team of Sarah Quirk and Barbara Krajina.
But the Panthers looked strong at No. 2 doubles, as Micaela Baney and Samantha Harden grabbed a 4-0 lead against Winnacunnet’s Lauren Makechnie and Lauren Fehr.
But Fehr and Makechnie rallied, posting an 8-6 win to produce the team triumph.
"If we worked through it, we figured it would be a good win or we’d lose with dignity," Makechnie said. "We just pushed through it."
"Tennis is such a game of momentum," Ferris said. "Once that shift happens, it gets mental and they knew they wanted it so bad. It really felt like they were going to take it. I’ve got to hand it to Winnacunnet, they stayed tough and my girls kind of fell apart a little bit."
South was looking good despite losses by Griswold (to Minichello) at No. 1, 8-1, and Baney (to Taylor) at No. 2, 8-6. Baney’s was the last singles match to finish and Taylor broke serve to keep the Warriors alive.
South swept the other singles. Harden beat Makechnie 8-2 at No. 3, while Drake topped Hannah Rogers at No. 4. Ziolek pulled out a 9-7 win at No. 5 over Quirk, and Allison handled Fehr 8-5 at No. 6.
Things were looking Purple. But then the Warriors gave South the blues.
"I guess they just came alive at the end," Allison said, "and we weren’t really ready for that."