After a 76-1 regular season match record and a pair of sweeps in the first two rounds of the Section 1 team tournament, the Scarsdale girls tennis team was finally challenged by Harrison and Byram Hills in the semifinals and finals, respectively. On Sunday, the Raiders won the final two rounds Sunday by identical 4-2 scores.
Scarsdale was the dominant force within Section 1 in the regular season with an 11-0 record and then topped four teams it hadn’t faced in the regular season in the team tournament.
“We’ve had good competition all season and I don’t want to take away from the wonderful season we had against Horace Mann and some other schools we played, but in this situation we steamrolled Somers and John Jay-East Fishkill and then when we got to Harrison and Byram it was tough,” coach Jennifer Roane said. “The girls did well.”
This was Scarsdale’s first team title in the sport, though the tournament is relatively new — it wasn’t around when the Raiders won 117 straight matches from the 1990s through 2000 — and the tourney hasn’t run every year with weather often a factor. Last year, the Raiders didn’t enter due to a different format over multiple weekends that didn’t work for the players. This year it was a three-day draw from start to finish.
“The team dynamic is really cool,” Devin Goldman said. “It’s nice to be able to see everyone doing their best. When we’re doing well and winning, it’s fun to cheer on the team. Most of us play outside of the school season, so it’s cool from going from singles or doubles to playing as a team. You get more of a dynamic and we win as a team based on the scoring.”
Scarsdale third singles player Anya Kornfeld, a junior, clinched the championship with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Sydney Levy of Byram Hills at third singles.
“You would have thought they won the Olympics,” Roane said of her team’s reaction to the final point. “They all ran out onto the court. Anya was the last one to finish and they were so excited. We were pushed pretty hard Sunday and they came through and played well.”
Prior to the semifinals the Raiders had only lost one individual match all season, Zoe Tucker at first singles to out-of-section Horace Mann in a hard-fought match.
Kornfeld completed an undefeated season at third singles, while the doubles teams of Maggie Inirio-Akuetey/Emily Anne Tsai and Goldman/Sabrina Siegel remained undefeated for the entire season.
“Third doubles played fantastic,” Roane said of Inirio-Akuetey and Tsai. “They got off the court first in both matches. They did very well.”
Juniors Siegel and Goldman are both varsity rookies and a new doubles pairing in the fourth spot.
“It definitely took a lot of practice to figure out whose strengths are where and how to play our best game,” Siegel said. “Now we’ve figured it out and it’s really good for us.”
Goldman likes Siegel’s serve and both are working on their net game.
“We’ve been able to get a lot better since the beginning of the season,” Goldman said. “When our serves are on it really helps our matches. Our baseline play and how we play out the points are really working well together.”
The duo was pushed to tiebreaks several times this season and always fought to come out on top.
“They definitely give us a lot more confidence and it’s helped us knowing we can beat the stronger teams,” Goldman said.
Roane had her fifth doubles team of Anna Cho and Natalie Schonfeld play in the opening round against Somers so everyone could contribute to the team’s championship run.
“I only have 13 of the people on the team and I wanted my fifth doubles team to play yesterday, so that worked out,” Roane said. “It’s also a nice way for the kids to play more tennis before the individual event. Yes, you can play against your team and practice, but we would never play some of these teams like John Jay-East Fishkill or Somers during the regular season, so that’s nice, too.”
The first doubles team of Luisa Mendes and Laura Mendes lost in both the semis and finals, and Maggie Maronilla and Megan Niu lost for the first time in the finals.
The matches Scarsdale lost were close. Against Byram Hills, the Mendes sisters lost in a third set 10-point tiebreak and vs. Harrison they fell 7-5 and 6-3, while Niu and Maronilla lost in a third set 10-point tiebreak.
The losses didn’t concern Roane. After all, she never expected for her team to be such a juggernaut this season. She hopes her team takes what it learned and uses it to improve for individual postseason, which kicked off this week.
Kornfeld is Scarsdale’s lone singles player entered in sectionals this week. Roane was impressed with how she handled her final opponent.
“The last match she played the girls was like a backboard — she got everything back,” Roane said. “And that can be very frustrating and throws you off your game. They know what works and it’s not working, so they need to figure out what to do. She really adjusted, didn’t get frustrated and changed up her strategy. I told her that will help her in the postseason.”
The doubles draw is loaded in all three conferences with two returning state teams plus strong entries from Harrison, Rye Neck and four teams from Scarsdale.
The team tournament was a perfect segue from regular season to postseason for the Raiders.
“Being that it’s an individual sport, it gives that team unity,” Roane said. “Some girls, their season is over and even though there might be a lot of kids going to the individual tournament, after a while you might be playing each other, so it’s less team and more about each player.”
Scarsdale Girls Tennis (15-0)
No. 1 SCARSDALE 6, No. 16 SOMERS 0
Section 1 Team Tournament Round of 16
Oct. 11 at Somers
Singles: 2) Natalie Hu (S) def. Sabrina Chueng 6-1, 6-2; 3) Anya Kornfeld (S) def. Zoe Gutherum 6-2, 6-0. Doubles: 1) Maggie Maronilla/Megan Niu (S) def. Bella Defeo/Kate McCartin 6-0, 6-0; 2) Maggie Inirio-Akuetey/Emily Anne Tsai (S) def. Emily Koffman/Cella Monachdlli 6-3, 6-0; 3) Devin Goldman/Sabrina Siegel (S) def. Prana Roth/Jaewon Yeo 6-0, 6-3; 4) Anna Cho/Natalie Schonfeld (S) def. Kelly Rowden/Daniella Ejui 6-1, 6-1.
Note: Scarsdale was the top seed and had home court, but Somers was going to forfeit if it couldn’t play at home.
No. 1 SCARSDALE 6, No. 9 JOHN JAY-EF 0
Section 1 Team Tournament Quarterfinals
Oct. 12 at Edgemont
Singles: 2) Hu (S) def. Tanmayi Rayavaram 6-0, 6-0; 3) Kornfeld (S) def. Amanda Rao 6-0, 6-0. Doubles: 1) Laura Mendes/Luisa Mendes (S) def. Phebe Webb/Cameron Contes; 2) Maronilla/Niu (S) def. Sarah Gosniowski/Nasudha Kulambi 6-1, 6-1; 3) Inirio-Akuetey/Tsai (S) def. Eder Kornitz/Aditi Rathi 6-0, 6-0; 4) Goldman/Siegel (S) def. Suzanne Bidwell/Juliette Pinque 6-0, 6-0.
No. 1 SCARSDALE 4, No. 4 HARRISON 2
Section 1 Team Tournament Semifinals
Oct. 13 at Harrison
Singles: 1) Tucker (S) def. Deanna Giambo 1-0 default; 3) Kornfeld (S) def. Ally Leighton 6-0, 6-0. Doubles: 1) Syd Saviano/Hannah Rose (H) def. Mendes/Mendes 7-5, 6-3; 2) Rachel Griff/Alexia Lansberg (H) Niu/Maronilla 6-4, 4-6, 11-9; 3) Inirio-Akuetey/Tsai (S) def. Hannah Lubowitz/Dylan Pizzutello 6-1, 6-4; 4) Goldman/Siegel (S) def. Victoria Rosenstock/Barbara Coppola 7-5, 4-6, 10-6.
No. 1 SCARSDALE 4, No. 2 BYRAM HILLS 2
Section 1 Team Tournament
Finals Oct. 13 at Harrison
Singles: 1) Alyssa Margolin (BH) def. Tucker; 3) Kornfeld (S) def. Sydney Levy 6-3, 6-3. Doubles: 1) Ellie Margolin/Suoha Travers (BH) def. Mendes/Mendes 6-4, 0-6, 10-7; 2) Maronilla/Niu (S) def. Allison Stillman/Anika Kumar 6-1, 6-1; 3) Inirio-Akuetey/Tsai (S) def. Izzy Seelig/Jackie Madden 6-0, 6-1; 4) Goldman/Siegel (S) def. Kate Klein/Chloe Siegle 6-4, 6-3.