In girls tennis: Falcons fly by Rangers

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Lake Region Ranger Judit Altimiri returns at the net against North Country’s Jacey Gray during Friday afternoon’s varsity girls’ tennis match at Lake Region. Photo by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle 4-22-2013

The visiting North Country Falcons spoiled Lake Region girls varsity tennis opener with a 3-2 win on Friday, April 19.   Friday’ contest was remarkable for a number of reasons not the least of which was the fact it marked the first time that the tennis program could host a match on the Lake Region campus.  The Rangers had been playing their home games at the municipal tennis courts in Derby due to a lack of courts.

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Lake Region’s Rachelle Cotnoir returns the volley during her doubles match against the visiting North Country Falcons. Photo by Richard Creaser

“It’s pretty nice to be able to actually play home games at home,” Lake Region tennis coach Laura Laramee said.  “We have the new court in back and they resurfaced the two older courts to give us some nice playing surfaces.”

While the courts might have been new and welcome, weather conditions were not especially favorable nor was the fact that spring vacation lingered just around the corner.  Due to school vacation schedules and class trips, both the Falcons and Rangers found themselves undermanned to complete a regular schedule of games.  As a result the contest consisted only of four singles matches and one doubles match.

Strong, gusting winds proved to be as much of a challenge for the players as their actual opponents.  Had the match been between college teams, Ms. Laramee conceded that it likely would have been cancelled.  Coach Laramee also coaches the Lyndon State College men’s tennis team.

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On a day best remembered for chaotic winds and periodic dust storms, North Country Falcon Kathryn Daigle, who studies at United Christian Academy, battled Lake Region’s Tay Turner. Photo by Richard Creaser

“Once the wind gets over a certain speed or the temperature drops below 50 degrees the colleges won’t play,” Coach Laramee said.  “But our season is so short we really don’t have enough time to make up games.”

“If it’s not raining, we’ve got to play,” North Country Coach Jody Driscoll said.

The wind did lead to many oddities in play.  Serving down wind forced players to constantly adjust the power in their serve while those playing against the wind had to force some extra muscle into every shot.  There were many occasions where even the most heroic of efforts was doomed to fail.

One such incident occurred in the doubles match between Rangers Crystal Trieber and Rachelle Cotnoir and Falcons Kaitlyn Young and Hailie Lyon.  A return by Lyon appeared ready to drop over the net, hung suspended in mid-air, moved a few inches backward and dropped back into the Falcons court.

“The wind is ridiculous,” Falcon Anne Arcoleo said.  “The bounce is bizarre.  Off the bounce you don’t know if it’s going to just stop right there or float off the court.  The weirdest is when it goes sideways and you can’t even guess where it might go.”

“It might be unfair but it’s unfair to everybody,” Coach Driscoll said of the wind.

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North Country’s Jacey Gray battles an errant gust of wind during her match against Lake Region’s Judit Altimiri at the Lake Region High tennis courts on Friday afternoon. Photo by Richard Creaser

Though the winds proved particularly troublesome during the first three matches of the day, the winds did eventually die down enough to allow the number three singles match and number four singles match to be a contest between players instead of players versus environment.

This created some of the best matches of the day as the coaches and players could exercise their skills instead of combating the vagaries of the elements.  The number three match between Falcon Kathryn Daigle, who attends United Christian Academy, and Ranger Tay Turner was a particularly well matched battle.  Daigle prevailed in the first set edging out Turner 7-5.  Turner responded by defeating Daigle 6-4 in the second set to spawn a super tie breaker.  Turner’s solid serving enabled her to win the tie break 10-2 and win the match for the host team.

Lake Region’s other victory would come in the number four match between Ranger Judit Altimiri and Falcon Jacey Gray.  Coach Laramee commented on the good rallies between the two.  In the end Altimiri would oust Gray in straight sets 6-2, 6-3.

The Falcons would win the remainder of the matches on the day including Arcoleo’s 6-0, 6-0 win over Shay Beaton in the number one singles match.  Meira Buck would eventually triumph over Alyssa Lawson 6-2, 6-3 to win the number two match while Young and Lyon would defeat Trieber and Cotnoir 6-0, 7-5 to take the doubles match.

The freakish weather conditions provided a rather challenging contest for two essentially fresh teams.  Shay Beaton is the lone returning player for the Rangers while Arcoleo was the lone veteran for the Falcons.  Both teams consisted primarily of players new to tennis.

“It seems like a lot of the schools in our division are in building years,” Coach Laramee said.  “That takes a lot of the pressure off for young players.  It levels the playing field for the teams and makes the games more competitive and less frustrating.”

The Falcons return to action on Monday, April 29, at BFA St. Albans while the Rangers visit St. Johnsbury Academy on Monday, April 22.

Contact Richard Creaser at [email protected]

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