The Spartan women’s tennis team completed its bid for a perfect season on Saturday, Oct. 18, when it defeated Lyndon and Johnson State Colleges in the Vermont State Colleges tournament. The Spartans dominated their competition in the VSC tournament just as they had done throughout the regular season. The Spartans lost only one match during the tournament, earning 17 wins, while Lyndon and Johnson each earned just four wins.
Michelle Podnecky defeated Lyndon’s Jennifer Falsetti 11-9 in first flight singles. She then defeated Johnson’s Chelsie O’Connell 10-4.
In the only match loss of the day for the Spartans, captain Charla Klaas was defeated by Lyndon’s Sue Promphong 10-7 in second flight singles. Klass would later defeat Johnson’s Rebecca Quarentiello 10-1.
Kate Bucci won both of her matches in third flight singles with scores of 10-0 against Lyndon and 10-2 against Johnson.
In fourth and fifth flight singles, Emily Hallett and Brittni Racine each picked up match wins for the Spartans.
Morgan Reuter was given two default match wins in sixth flight singles.
With their wins in the VSC tournament, Podnecky and Bucci finished their season undefeated in singles play.
“Being individually undefeated in singles was a huge plus,” said Bucci. “After the Colby-Sawyer tournament, I was a little nervous about the season. My goal was just to split my wins and losses, but going undefeated works too.”
In doubles play, the Spartan pairings of Podnecky and Bucci, Klaas and Hallett, and Reuter and Emily Bisson swept Lyndon and Johnson.
“As captain of the team, I love each and every one of the girls I play with,” said Klaas. “The team as a whole is a very unified group of girls, and I am indescribably proud of them and their accomplishments this season.”
The VSC tournament was a perfect ending to an exceptional season in the mind of head coach Paul Cohen, but not his favorite memory of the undefeated season.
Cohen explained that the highlight for him was defeating Plymouth State University at Plymouth for the first time ever after the Panthers had dominated the Spartans in a preseason invitational.
Cohen explained that Bucci and Podnecky, two freshmen, had been put on the “grandstand” court in their first collegiate match, something he seemed to think was unfair to the young players. The duo was defeated in doubles play 8-1 in that invitational.
When the Spartans faced Plymouth again on Sept. 23, they were ready for payback.
The Spartans earned key doubles victories from Bucci and Podnecky, Klaas and Hallett, and Racine and Mary Kay Capone, which, according to Cohen, “helped spark Castleton to a 7-2 win.”
Cohen said that going back to Plymouth and winning the match with authority was great “redemption” for the Spartans.
“Beating Plymouth State University on their courts was, in my mind, the pinnacle of our season,” he said.
Bucci agreed with her coach.
“The highlight of this [season] was definitely beating Plymouth in doubles. That was the best feeling because we had originally lost to them in the pre-season tournament,” she said.
Despite fellow North Atlantic Conference teams Becker and Bay Path Colleges dropping out of the NAC earlier this season, Cohen hopes that the NAC will be at full strength in time for the start of next season so that tennis can have a NAC championship once again.
Even without his team playing in a NAC championship this season, Cohen feels that the team is leading the conference.
“In my mind, this team has reclaimed our conference title, and it did so with tremendous poise and good sportsmanship,” he said.
Now that the season is over, the Spartans look to continue their winning ways next season but, they hope, against a tougher schedule, according to Cohen.
“You get better by playing better competition. I like getting input from returning players regarding what they would like to see in the upcoming season,” Cohen said. “I think the consensus will be to try to book a more challenging schedule next year.