SARATOGA SPRINGS — A battle in the semifinals didn’t hinder the Shaker girls’ tennis team, it energized the Bison and powered them to a convincing win against Saratoga Springs on Saturday afternoon in the Suburban Council championships.
Shaker managed to get by Shenendehowa, 6-3, in Saturday morning’s semifinal matchup, and it followed it up by handling the Blue Streaks 8-1 to win the Suburban Council tournament title.
“We came out and played Ballston [Spa] very tough [in an 8-1 win]. They’ve got a really nice team there, and our kids responded well,” Saratoga Springs coach Tim O’Brien said. “We just came out and Shaker played well. They were making a lot of balls in the court, and it just didn’t go our way in the end, but that’s how it goes.”
Senior Taylor Crain, Shaker’s No. 1 singles player, entered her match against the Blue Streaks’ Katya Kelly with a different game plan, leading to a 10-2 win and started the Bison’s afternoon scoring run.
“Last time [facing Kelly], I was really holding back, and my serves were not going in,” Crain said. “This time, I was doing second serves with first serve [power] and getting kick on the ball.”
Kelly defeated Crain 10-7 in their only league meeting of the year Oct. 7.
“Last time, I was hitting down the middle. This time, I knew what I had to do to beat her,” Crain said.
The remainder of her teammates followed her lead.
“We played well in this match, and Saratoga made a lot of unforced errors,” Shaker coach Gerard Cuva said. “They let themselves get behind early, and in a pro set, you get behind early, you’re in big trouble. We were ahead on all three doubles courts and the 1-2 singles scored very early.”
Crain won quickly in the morning semifinals, defeating Shenendehowa’s Brianna Werner 10-2, giving her time to cheer and think about her rematch with Kelly.
“I definitely had more time to rejuvenate,” Kelly said. “I got to cheer on my team, too. Then I got to think about my match. That definitely helped.”
Crain’s pair of individual wins and a league tournament title on a sunny afternoon capped a season that was in jeopardy due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I didn’t even think we were going to even have any sort of tennis at all, let alone a playoff,” Crain said. “To have one last senior season with some of my best friends, nothing can top it.”
SUBURBAN COUNCIL CHAMPIONSHIPS
SHAKER 8, SARATOGA SPRINGS 1
Singles: Taylor Crain (Sha) d. Katya Kelly 10-2; Juliette Ceas (Sha) d. Maddie Siebeneck 10-2; May Le (Sha) d. Izzie Pecora 10-4; Faith Malo (Sha) d. Eliana Kelly 11-10 (5); Abigail Poole (Sha) d. Molly Corcoran 10-5; Karina Morey (SS) d. Ashritha Annam 8-5. Doubles: Mikayla Brunell-Yolanda Mendonca (Sha) d. Ava Herzog-Kate Lindley 10-4; Harini Karnati-Jessica Andrews (Sha) d. MeiLi Hoffman-Smith/Lily Schumann 10-7; Regan Doherty-Lilith Phelps (Sha) d. Raquel Cohen-Lexi D’Iorio 10-5.
SHAKER 6, SHENENDEHOWA 3
Singles: Taylor Crain (Sha) d. Brianna Werner 10-2; Juliette Ceas (Sha) d. Keely Legnard 10-0; May Le (Sha) d. Brianna Oakey 10-2; Faith Malo (Sha) d. Mia Dobis 10-2; Victoria Ines (Shen) d. Abigail Poole 10-5; Ashritha Annam (Sha) d. Juni Kwon 11-10 (12). Doubles: Ciara Hanley-Abby Bindelglass (Shen) d. Yolanda Mendonca-Mikayla Brunell 11-9; Jessica Andrews-Harini Karnati (Sha) d. Ashlie Zhang-Riane Richard 10-7; Isha Advani-Victoria Ines (Shen) d. Lilith Phelps-Regan Doherty 10-6.
SARATOGA SPRINGS 8, BALLSTON SPA 1
Singles: Katya Kelly (SS) d. Ryann Ashby 10-0; Maddie Siebeneck (SS) d. Hannah Cook 10-5; Izzie Pecora (SS) d. Isabella Kaldy 10-6; Gabby Gise (BS) d. Eliana Kelly 10-7; Molly Corcoran (SS) d. Isabella Layer 10-1; Karina Morey (SS) d. Teah Morelli 10-5. Doubles: Ava Herzog-Kate Lindley (SS) d. Paige Witalec-Sophia Ostrander 8-2; MeiLi Hoffman-Smith/Lily Schumann (SS) d. Ava Purcell-Kendall Winters 8-3; Raquel Cohen-Lexi DIorio (SS) d. Maria Galarza-Katie Burns 8-1.