Saints nip Tigers to net first win

Saints nip Tigers to net first win

Two days after netting a three-set victory in her team’s season opener against Woonsocket, St. Raphael Academy senior Chatham McCloskey, left, posted a 6-4, 7-5 victory in her second singles match last Thursday afternoon to help the Saints defeat Tolman High, 4-3. SRA junior Christina Wilk, right, turned in a solid effort in her 6-7 (3), 7-6 (5), 10-5 loss in her first singles match. (Breeze photos by Eric Benevides)
Pawtucket’s high school girls’ tennis teams finally open Division III season

PAWTUCKET – The St. Raphael Academy girls’ tennis team’s abbreviated season promises to contain plenty of excitement this month.

The opening week of the Division III season certainly provided the Saints with a couple of nailbiters. After suffering a 4-3 defeat to Woonsocket High in their Division III opener last Tuesday, Oct. 6, at Vets Park, the Saints came back two afternoons later to top neighboring rival Tolman High at Slater Park by the same score.

The Saints, who have been one of the D-III’s most successful teams the past couple of seasons, accumulating a 21-8 record and reaching the D-III quarterfinals last season and the semis in 2018, graduated three seniors, but have six newcomers joining last year’s returning starters.

“Obviously, I want to go out and play hard and win, but I also want to see everyone have fun and stay healthy,” noted SRA head coach Scott Corain after his match against the Tigers. “It’s a modified season this year, but at least it’s something to get these kids playing, so we’ll see how we do.”

Gone from last season’s D-III ranks are North Providence, which won the last two championships, and Tiverton, which went 13-1 last year. They are playing in D-II, but replacing them on SRA’s schedule are Classical and East Providence, which are coming down from the state’s second division.

“(North Providence and Tiverton) were definitely tough,” remarked Corain. “We had a lot of good matches against those two, but it’s nice they’re up in D-II now. But we’re playing East Providence and Classical in our next two matches, so we’ll see how we do against them.”

In SRA’s win over Tolman, the Saints saw junior Blessy Monte de Ramos and sophomore Sydney Duclos sweep their first doubles match by 6-0, 6-0 scores and junior Jordan Taylor grab a 6-1, 6-0 victory in fourth singles, but the biggest victory came from senior Chatham McCloskey, who held off Tolman sophomore Delaney Sweeney to win her second singles match, 6-4, 7-5.

The Tigers, who were playing in their season opener, were led by the three-set victories they received from junior Gina Carpenter in first singles and junior Charlize Lopez in third singles. Carpenter outlasted Saints junior Christina Wilk in a contest that took two hours and 45 minutes by scores of 6-7 (3), 7-6 (5), and 10-5, and Lopez topped SRA freshman Alexys Tavares, 6-4, 1-6, 10-7.

Also claiming their matches by 6-2, 6-1 scores were St. Raphael’s second doubles team of junior Ella Olea and sophomore Theresa Roberge and Tolman’s third doubles tandem of sophomore Hawawou Barry and freshman Gianna Wilson.

The Saints’ lineup also contains junior Miso Lee and sophomore Grace Ritchotte in third doubles. Ritchotte came out for the team this fall once the RIIL decided not to have a girls’ volleyball season, and another newcomer who has made a name for herself in another sport is senior Tori Jacques, who is a shortstop on the Saints’ softball team and currently one of the tennis squad’s top reserves.

In the Saints’ loss to the Villa Novans, McCloskey grabbed a 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 victory and Tavares also went the distance in her 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-2 triumph, but Woonsocket squeaked out the win when its second doubles squad of junior Samantha Forcier and sophomore Leah Godin edged Olea and Roberge by 6-2, 2-6, 10-3 scores.

“They had to play a tiebreaker in place of a third set because we didn’t have lights on our courts,” explained Corain, who also received a 6-0, 6-4 victory from his first doubles team of Monte de Ramos and Duclos. “We lost a tough one, but for the first match, (losing) 4-3 wasn’t too bad.”

As for the Tigers, only four starters are back from last season’s team and they are all playing singles. Carpenter played second singles and Sweeney started at third singles last season; Lopez jumps from first doubles to third singles, and junior Shea-Lynn Messier makes the move from second doubles to fourth singles.

The Tigers’ first doubles team features junior Chanez Joseph and sophomore Ivy Par, and juniors Allyssa Correia and Alanna Soares make up the second doubles squad.

With no seniors in the lineup, “that’s going to make a difference for next year because everyone will have a year under their belt,” added veteran head coach John Jasionowski. “This is just a year to have fun and learn a few things, so we’ll just do what we have to do and get things done.”

As for Pawtucket’s other girls’ tennis squad, Shea only has eight players on its roster, none of them seniors, which means the Raiders will be forfeiting their third doubles matches this season unless they can add some more players. The Raiders’ top two singles players are junior Ami Avila-Sosa and sophomore Catherine Nobre.

Shea hosted Central in its season-opening match last Wednesday afternoon at the Oak Hill courts and suffered a 7-0 defeat, but junior third singles player Sophia Anderson, junior fourth singles player Rebecca Sanches, and the first doubles team of juniors Sylvia Sanches and Arissa Campbell played very well in their three-set losses.

The Raiders and the Tigers will face each other on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. at Slater Park, but before that match, Tolman will play Providence Country Day today at 4 p.m. at the Kendbrin Swim & Tennis Club’s courts in East Providence. SRA, meanwhile, will take on East Providence on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. on the Townies’ campus.

At left, Tolman sophomore Delaney Sweeney played very well in last Thursday afternoon’s contest against St. Raphael Academy despite dropping her second singles match, 6-4, 7-5. Right, Tolman junior Gina Carpenter returns a backhand during her first singles match. In a showdown that lasted two hours and 45 minutes, Carpenter posted a 6-7 (3), 7-6 (5), 10-5 victory.