NP girls’ tennis team begins title defense

NP girls’ tennis team begins title defense

North Providence High senior Mary Catherine Fornaro, who posted a 15-1 record as a first singles player last season, goes all-out to return a volley during her first singles match last Thursday afternoon. Fornaro rallied to a 3-6, 6-0, 6-1 victory, but the Cougars suffered a 4-3 loss to Tiverton High, the team NP topped in last season’s Division III title match. (Breeze photos by Eric Benevides)
Cougars drop 4-3 match to Tiverton in rematch of last year’s D-III finals

NORTH PROVIDENCE – The schedule makers couldn’t wait to pencil in a rematch between the two teams that battled for last season’s Division III girls’ tennis championship.

Defending champion North Providence and runner-up Tiverton took the court last Thursday afternoon at Olney Park for their second matches of the young season and first time facing each other since last year’s epic title match at Slater Park, which saw the Cougars battle back from a 3-2 deficit to nip the Tigers, 4-3, for their first D-III title since 2005.

Last Thursday’s rematch was also an exciting one, but it saw the Tigers’ first doubles team of Lindsay Monast and Marissa Cayer grab a close 6-4, 7-5 victory that turned out to be the difference in the visitor’s 4-3 triumph.

“We’re both going to be very good teams again this season,” said Jerry Rubino, who has been the Cougars’ head coach in 29 of the team’s 30 years of existence. “But I think Rogers will also be really good, and Pilgrim’s definitely strong – they have most of their players back. It’s going to be an interesting season.”

Six starters are back from the Cougars’ championship team, which went 18-0 with 10 shutouts, and three of them are back in the spots they occupied last year.

Senior Mary-Catherine Fornaro, who went 15-1 at number one singles last season, is back atop the lineup, and her classmate, Riley-Kate Pappas, returns to number three singles after posting a 12-4 mark. And leading the way in doubles is senior Hannah Doorley, who teamed up with classmate Adrianna Gianquitti to post a 17-0 record at first doubles.

This season, Gianquitti moves up to fourth singles, and sophomore Olivia Fontaine, who went 16-2 at fourth singles last season, jumps to the second spot. Joining Doorley on the first doubles team is senior Julia Jasper, who was 13-1 as a third doubles player last year.

The second doubles squad is made up of seniors Victoria Wrage and Alyssa DaPonte, who both got a taste of varsity action last year, and the third doubles team is comprised of sophomores Alena Rizzo, who played in two matches last year, and Paula Zhuang, and senior newcomer Gifty Osei will also see some time on that team.

“It’s a work in progress,” Rubino added. “As usual, we’re just trying to have a winning season and make the playoffs, that’s our goal. We just want to get better as the year goes on.”

The Cougars began their title defense last Tuesday, Sept. 3, at Coventry against the Knotty Oakers, but because of that town’s curfew due to the EEE activity in that area, it was resumed and completed the following afternoon.

Nevertheless, the Cougars were able to capture a 6-1 triumph that saw Pappas lead the way with her 6-3, 6-0 victory, Rizzo and Zhuang team up to post a 6-1, 6-3 win, and the Cougars receive 6-3, 6-2 wins from Fornaro and the doubles team of Doorley and Jasper.

Gianquitti also netted a 6-4, 6-2 victory in her match, and Wrage and DaPonte joined forces to win a 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (9) thriller. Fontaine, meanwhile, dropped her singles match, but played well in her 7-5, 6-4 loss.

Two days later, the Cougars and Tigers met for their showdown, and Fornaro picked up a big 3-6, 6-0, 6-1 win in her featured match with Tiverton’s Jaimi Vaillancourt, who suffered her only two losses in first singles to Fornaro last year.

Gianquitti also picked up a 7-5, 6-3 triumph in fourth singles, and Rizzo and Zhuang were 6-1, 6-2 winners in third doubles. But the Tigers, who improved to 2-0, took the other four matches, and one of their victories was Abigail Forcier’s 6-7 (2), 7-5, 6-0 win over Pappas in third singles.

The Cougars, who were scheduled to play Rogers in Newport on Tuesday, will host Woonsocket on Thursday at 4 p.m.

NP senior Adrianna Gianquitti, who was unbeaten as a first doubles player last season, is playing fourth singles this year and has won her first two matches in straight sets. Gianquitti and her teammates will take on Woonsocket tomorrow at 4 p.m. at the Olney Park tennis courts.
Sophomore Olivia Fontaine, shown in action during last Thursday’s match, is playing second singles this year after posting a 16-2 mark in fourth singles last season.