Sensational start for Chieftains

Sensational start for Chieftains

Ponaganset junior Amelia Campanella, who is back for her third season at first singles, posted a 6-3, 6-3 win during last Thursday afternoon’s 7-0 victory over North Smithfield. (Breeze photos by Eric Benevides)
Girls’ tennis team captures first four matches, awaits clash vs. Huskies

NORTH SCITUATE – It took a magical 12-match win streak to erase a 1-3 start to its season and send the Ponaganset High girls’ tennis team to last year’s Division II championship match.

And it took Middletown just 51 minutes to defeat the Chieftains and win the title.

“I think they were just so nervous,” Ponaganset head coach MaryLou Ferri recalled of her players. “They were out of sorts. They weren’t themselves and they didn’t play like themselves.”

It was indeed a tough ending to such a superb season, but with five of the top six players from that team returning to the Chieftains’ lineup this fall, Ponaganset is looking to top last year’s performance and put together a season to remember that includes a return trip to Slater Park for the D-II finals.

“Honestly, I really am hoping to get back there,” added Ferri. “I have a solid team – I really do – and they all want to get back there. We didn’t play well (in last season’s finals), but (after the match) they were all like, ‘Coach, if we get back there again this year, we are not going to play like that.”

Ferri was talking about her team last Thursday afternoon on their home courts during the Chieftains’ 7-0 victory over North Smithfield, which was their third win of the season.

The Chieftains began their season on Thursday, Sept. 5, by blanking Chariho, 7-0, and last Tuesday, Sept. 10, they saw come-from-behind, three-set victories in singles from junior Amelia Campanella and senior Ellysa Tancrede help lift them to a 5-2 win on the road over Narragansett.

And on Tuesday, Ponaganset raised its record to 4-0 by netting a 6-1 victory over South Kingstown.

“This season has been great,” added Ferri. “We’re doing a lot of practicing and we’re working hard. I’m always telling everybody, ‘Go back to basics. Go back to basics,’ (and working on) less unforced errors, returning, hitting the ball back and forth, and a lot of net work.”

The Chieftains’ four singles players, who have been working hard since day one, are back from last year, and atop the lineup for the third consecutive season are Campanella at first singles and senior Andolina Cipriano at second singles.

Senior Samantha Harkness, who played fourth singles last year, is in the number three spot this season, and senior Ellysa Tancrede, who is a three-year starter in singles, is back in the fourth spot after playing third singles last fall.

In doubles, senior Kate Mooney is back on the first team and joined by a newcomer to the lineup, junior Sara Brouillard. The second and third doubles teams are also brand new, with freshmen Anneliese Curry and Katie Tancrede at number two and junior Natalie Gray and freshman Daniela Harkness at three.

“These girls play at Rally Point (Racquet Club) and they’re pretty seasoned players,” Ferri said of her new starters. “They play a lot of tennis. And I have two other girls who are really good and who could fit into (the lineup) if something happened, (freshmen) Rachel Kelman and Emily Pierce.”

In last week’s victory over the Northmen, Samantha Harkness (6-4, 7-6, 7-3) and the doubles squads of Katie Tancrede and Curry (0-6, 6-3, 6-4) and Daniela Harkness and Gray (4-6, 6-4, 10-7) helped preserve the shutout by netting three-set victories.

Ellysa Tancrede also picked up a thrilling 6-1, 7-6 (9-7) victory in her match, and the other victories came from Campanella (6-3, 6-3), Cipriano (6-2, 6-2) and the doubles squad of Mooney and Brouillard (6-2, 6-1).

In Tuesday’s victory over the Rebels, Cipriano’s 6-0, 6-0 shutout highlighted the Chieftains’ afternoon, and Samantha Harkness and Ellysa Tancrede also netted 6-2, 6-3 victories.

Also winning their matches were Campanella (6-4, 6-2) and the doubles teams of Daniela Harkness and Gray (6-2, 6-4) and Katie Tancrede and Curry (6-4, 3-6, 6-3).

“The girls have been fabulous,” remarked Ferri. “I think they work really well together and I think they’re going to win a lot of matches this season.”

The Chieftains will return to their home courts today for a 3:30 p.m. showdown against Mount Hope, which entered the week with a 4-0 record.

Ponaganset senior Andolina Cipriano was on top of her game in last Thursday’s match, as she rolled to a 6-2, 6-2 victory in second singles.
Ponaganset senior Samantha Harkness returns a serve during last Thursday’s match against North Smithfield. Harkness posted a three-set win to help the Chieftains blank the Northmen, 7-0.