Hanover Girls' Tennis Heads to Division One Finals
Marauders Beat Exeter 6-3 in NHIAA Semifinals
The Hanover High School girls’ tennis team avenged their one loss on the season, beating Exeter 6-3 in the NHIAA Division One Semifinals to advance to Wednesday’s Finals. The Marauders led 4-2 after singles play, and clinched the win with a pair of victories in doubles.
Exeter was very strong at the top of their lineup, winning at first and second singles and also at first doubles, but the Blue Hawks were no match for Hanover’s team depth. The Marauders had lost to Exeter early in the season with two of their top players missing, but with a full lineup they were firmly in control.
Marauder senior Rine Uhm lost her first singles match to Ashley Keaveney 8-3, and Margaret Werner lost to Melissa Wood at second singles by the same score. Hanover took the next three singles, with Mindy Wu cruising to an 8-2 win in the third spot. Bri Laycock broke open a close match at fourth singles, winning the last four games to earn an 8-5 decision. Ellen Lamm was in control from start to finish, earning an 8-2 win a fifth singles.
With the first five singles matches concluded and Hanover holding a precarious 3-2 lead, all eyes at Dartmouth’s Boss Tennis Center turned to the sixth singles match between Hanover’s Grace Li and Exeter’s Charlotte Gaughan. The two traded leads until Gaughan went ahead 8-7 with a chance to close things out and tie the overall contest, Li dug in and tied the match at 8-8, sending things to a tiebreaker.
Li took control, winning three straight points on her serve, and then taking the next two on Gaughan’s serve. She won the first of these with a great get on a ball barely over the net, and then hit a forehand winner to go up 5-0. Lin split the next two points on her serve, and then clinched the match after a long rally, forcing a wide return.
The Marauders were confident heading into doubles play, and rightfully so. Rine Uhm and Bri Laycock had their hands full at first doubles, losing to Keaveney and Wood 8-3. It fell to Margaret Werner and Ellen Lamm to win the decisive match at second doubles, and they did not disappoint. Ironically, these were the two players who had missed the first Exeter contest. The match was tied 2-2 before the Marauders won the next four games to take a decisive 6-3 lead. After breaking Zoe Pantazelos to go ahead 3-2, Hanover went up 4-2 on Werner’s serve after going to deuce four times. The Marauders got another quick service break, and then took a 6-2 lead on Lamm’s service. After conceding a game, Werner won her service at love, and the Marauders broke service once again to win the match and make Hanover’s victory official.
Meanwhile, at third doubles, Mindy Wu and Grace Li earned a methodical 8-4 victory. The duo went ahead 6-1, and then hit a lull and conceded three straight games. Glancing at the next court and confirming that the Marauders had finalized things with their second doubles victory, Wu and Li closed out the contest by winning the final two games. Li won her service to break the skid, and then the Marauders won the final four points to break Exeter and end the day’s action on a high note.
“Exeter was the perfect opponent for us today,” commented Coach Liz Murray. “They are a great team to play, and they pushed us to be at our best.” Murray also conceded that it didn’t hurt to be playing the only team that had beaten Hanover during the regular season. “This was very exciting,” concluded Murray.
Hanover will travel to Pinkerton Academy in Derry for the finals at 4:00 next Wednesday against the winner of the Derryfield-Manchester Central match. Now 15-1 with a 14-game win streak, the Marauders hope to close out their first season in Division One with their fourth consecutive state championship.