SOUTH YARMOUTH ─ It was an afternoon of long volleys and lots of anxiety for the Monomoy girls tennis team, but in the end the Sharks prevailed, defeating Bourne 4-1 to earn their way to the Div. 3 South Semifinals for the first time in school history, and it was due in part to the success of a team freshman.
Monomoy pulled ahead 2-0 when first singles player Carly Donovan and the second doubles team of Hannah Marty and Julia Smith won their matches, Donovan defeating Bourne opponent Jenna Sundquist 6-1, 6-1, and the doubles pair of Marty and Smith bested Jordan Torpey and Sydney Schaadt 6-2, 6-3.
Then Bourne’s first doubles team won their match against Monomoy’s Caty Street and Lauren Handel 6-2, 6-2, putting the Sharks at 2-1 and victory on the shoulders of senior Dalia Pen and freshman Lindsay Macdonald.
Both Pen and Macdonald battled ferociously on side-by-side courts, Pen against the formidable Nora Center and Macdonald against Leah Hidenfelter, with both matches going long. In Pen’s case, a tiebreak was needed, while Macdonald’s headed into a third set, both matches lasting well over two hours as teammates from the squad watched in eager anticipation from behind the glass of the Mid-Cape Athletic Club.
Both Pen and Macdonald won their first sets against their respective opponents, Pen in a tiebreak and Macdonald with a score of 7-5, each Monomoy player embarking on some of the longest volleys of the day.
The concern of their teammates increased when each lost the second set, Pen by a score of 3-6 and Macdonald 4-6, but neither was finished fighting. Though each knew the outcome depended on at least one victory between them, both remained determined to take their game to the next level and their team to the next round of tournament play.
Ultimately it was Macdonald who emerged the deciding factor when she won the final set against Hidenfelter 6-3, her face breaking into a wide smile when she realized her match had clinched the day for the Sharks.
Moments later, Pen also emerged victorious, tying Center 6-6 before taking the tiebreak 7-4 to give Monomoy a 4-1 quarterfinal win.
“That was a nail-biter,” said head coach Bill Burke. “A couple grinders, long rallies, especially [Dalia and Lindsay].”
“I’m really proud of Lindsay today,” said Donovan, who graduated with the Class of 2017 on Sunday. “I think she had a lot of mental toughness to fight through and I’m really proud of her.”
Macdonald was beyond excited about her win.
“I was very ecstatic,” she said. “And happy to help the team win. They’re all so nice.”
The awareness that his team had reached a milestone in Monomoy tennis left Burke somewhat speechless, but thrilled for his team and their tireless efforts in the tournament and throughout the regular season.
“I don’t know what to say,” Burke said. “It’s a big milestone.”
Burke gave high praise to Macdonald and Pen, the latter also a recent graduate of MRHS who is joining the Marines soon.
“From pretty early on it looked like we would need to win either second or third,” Burke said. “Both went to a third set and for a while there it looked like the tide was turning against us, but we ended up winning both. I’m very proud of those players. Those matches were tough.”
Burke praised the team for their dedication to one another.
“The entire team, whether they’re starters or not, has been tremendously supportive,” Burke said. “That makes my job a lot easier.”
Next up, the team travels to Martha’s Vineyard for the semifinals with a 3 p.m. start on Thursday, a match Burke acknowledged would be tough. Donovan, however, is thrilled for her team no matter the outcome.
“I’m really glad my last year we got to fight through,” she said. “I think this is one of the best teams I’ve played on. I’m really proud of the girls.”
Donovan said many of her teammates were relatively new to the sport, but picked up skills quickly.
“It was really exciting to have them play so well,” she said.
Donovan will continue her tennis career at Regis College in the fall and credits Monomoy with helping her achieve success.
“This part of it has really given me the chance to have fun playing tennis,” she said. “I think club tennis is a lot different and more competitive. This is definitely competitive, but it’s given me more leadership skills in having to lead a team and being able to positively support my teammates. I think high school tennis is a fundamental part of going to college to play.”
Donovan was cheering on both Pen and Macdonald during their lengthy matches, and relished the experience, especially realizing an overall win for the team.
“It shows that we can fight,” she said. “I was worried for a second but we really fought through, and I’m really proud of my team.”