, Salem, MA

May 1, 2013

Marblehead tennis wins battle of unbeaten under lights

By Dan Harrison

---- — MARBLEHEAD — Two undefeated tennis teams matched up last night as the Swampscott girls traveled to Marblehead to play the Magicians under the lights at Seaside Park.

It seemed only fitting when the match ultimately came down to the first singles spot where Marblehead’s Tory Booth edged out Swampscott’s Anna Raptunavich in a match that lasted over two hours. The Magicians claimed the 3-2 victory and remain undefeated at 6-0 while the Big Blue dropped to 7-1.

“No question it’s always extremely satisfying to beat Swampscott. You can throw the records out, it’s always a battle when we play,” said Marblehead coach Tim Stonecipher. “We’ve had an easier road up to this point so I told the girls before the match that it would be a test. It certainly was. Boy, Swampscott is good.”

After Booth capitalized on some Raptunavich mistakes to take the opening set 6-1, the Big Blue ace battled back hard in the second set. It was a back-and-forth before Booth came away victorious 7-5. The Marblehead sophomore had two tremendous lob shots she placed just inches inside the base line after Raptunavich charged the net that helped Booth grab the final point.

Booth had been the aggressor in the first set and punished Raptunavich when the Big Blue star didn’t get her first serves to fall. She was forced to take some velocity off on the second serves and Booth hammered back some fine winners. The second set was a different story as Raptunavich got more aggressive and Booth was forced to play lob shots from the baseline.

“Anna became more aggressive in the second set and that put Tory on her heels,” noted Stonecipher. “It was two, very different styles of sets. Tory showed she can win in a variety of ways. I’ proud she was able to get a win against a good competitor.”

Big Blue coach Nina Rogers was thrilled with the way Raptunavich battled and expects another great match when the teams play again later in the season.

“Anna has some great strokes. She has a different game than Tory,” said Rogers. “I think she’s (Raptunavich) just as good as Tory, today, Tory just came out on top.”

The match had come down to the first singles match after the Magicians swept the doubles and Swampscott rolled at second and third singles.

“I had no idea what to expect because Swampscott had a lot of turnover from last year,” said Stonecipher. “Doubles is where we’re strong so we were fortunate to get two points there tonight.”

The match had come down to the first singles match after the Magicians swept the doubles and Swampscott rolled at second and third singles.

Marblehead senior captain Meghan Gabel rarely missed and her partner, sophomore Kelly Mealey was equally as impressive as the duo made quick work of the Big Blue’s Allegra Walker and Jessica Zolott, 6-0, 6-2. Amanda Gilberg and Meaghan Hanratty defeated Nataliya Andrushschenko and Michelle Schnayder 6-4, 6-2.

The first doubles match was the quickest of the night as Gabel and Mealey seemed like they’d been playing together their entire lives. Getting that first point can do wonders for team moral so Gabel and Mealey were happy to step up.

“We work really well together. You could see she (Mealey) was volleying like crazy. We just click,” said Gabel. “You need to get momentum going. It helps when the entire team can see us coming off the court with a win under our belt.”

Swampscott freshman Vivien Gere was on her game again last night, taking down Marblehead senior captain Annie Ryan 6-1, 6-0 at second singles. Swampscott sophomore Veronica Pyatigorskaya turned her ankle early in the second set but it didn’t slow her down at all. Pyatigorskaya used every shot in her repertoire to win 6-2, 6-0 over Sarah Katz.

“I was really pleased with how all my singles played tonight,” said Rogers. “She (Pyatigorskaya) has all the strokes-the top spin, the slice and she’s got a fabulous serve. When it drops in on her first serve more and more she’s going to be hard to beat at that (third singles) position.”