Barnegat Girls Tennis Team Falls Short Against Triton in State Tourney

Oct 11, 2017
Photo by: David Biggy

With her first doubles squad down, 5-4, in the third set on Oct. 6, Barnegat High School girls tennis coach Sue Rogers walked up to the fence surrounding the courts and called over Lily Spagnola and Pimpakan Lertburanakan to talk about things.

“I didn’t say too much,” said the veteran coach, whose eighth-seeded Bengals fell short, 3-2, against Triton during the first round of the NJSIAA South Jersey Group II tournament that ended a five-match winning streak. “I told them to keep playing hard, not to give up on anything. I like to stay positive with them. These girls have so much pressure on them as it is. I don’t need to put any more pressure on them.”

Lertburanakan and Spagnola responded well to the encouragement, breaking serve against Alyssa Capehart and Julia Miller to knot the set at 5-5. But Capehart and Miller rebounded to break serve and regain the lead, and, after Lertburanakan and Spagnola worked back to deuce during the next game, ultimately scored the final two points of the set to send the ninth-seeded Mustangs ahead to the quarterfinals.

“We haven’t had a home match for the state tournament in three years, so we were excited for it,” said second singles player and senior Amber Kantenwein, who managed a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Maddie Zehner. “Everybody played well and did their best, but we just came up short.”

With senior first singles player Kelly Kantenwein getting bounced in two sets against Sarah Ahrens, and the second doubles crew of Calista Bowie and Jillian Buscio also knocked off in straight sets, the Bengals had to muster victories in the middle of the lineup.

Junior third singles player Madison Linton won her first set against Kaitlyn Chille, 6-2, then went up 1-0 before a critical point in the second set occurred. Linton and Chille played through four deuces before Linton emerged with the second-game win, then held serve to go up 3-0. She then closed out the match without losing a game in the set.

Meanwhile, Amber Kantenwein had her own battle brewing with Zehner. Down  2-1 in the second set, the Bengal scored the next two games to go up 3-2, then held serve to take a 4-2 lead. Zehner swiped the seventh game of the set, but Kantenwein held serve and then broke Zehner’s serve to win the match.

That left the first doubles duo with the task of trying to win the contest. After Lertburanakan and Spagnola won the first set, 6-4, Capehart and Miller went up 3-0 in the second set before the Barnegat junior-sophomore tandem later worked the score to 4-5 before dropping the set. Lertburanakan and Spagnola grabbed the initial lead in the third set and were up 3-2, before the Triton pair turned the momentum with a pair of wins to go up 4-3.

“I’m proud of the girls for their effort,” Rogers said. “With an 8-9 match, it’s really anybody’s match to win. The competition is good in these kinds of matches, and our girls just missed today.”

A day earlier, the Bengals knocked off Shore Conference Class B South division rival Lakewood, 4-1, and on Oct. 4 bounced Jackson Liberty by the same score. On Oct. 3, Barnegat won a 3-2 decision over Brick Memorial, during which Amber Kantenwein, Linton and the Bowie-Buscio team were victorious.

Despite the loss in the state tourney, Rogers has been extremely pleased with the way her Bengals have played this season. At 11-6 and with about a handful of matches left to the season, the Bengals are primed to finish above .500.

“These girls have surpassed my expectations for this season,” Rogers said. “At the beginning of the season, I thought we’d be closer to .500, but our girls have worked really hard, have gotten better in all aspects of the sport, and we’ve had the same lineup the entire season, with no injuries or illness. It’s been a good season, for sure. And the best part is they’re all such great girls and excellent teammates.”

— David Biggy

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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