Weekly Feature

2018-09-19 / Sports

Amherst girls tennis remains unbeaten in ECIC II

Amherst’s girls tennis team is unbeaten through its first three league matches, posting 5-0 road victories over West Seneca East on Sept. 12 and Sweet Home on Friday. The Lady Tigers are tied for first place in ECIC II with a 3-0 record.

Amherst dominated the West Seneca East match, winning 60 games to East’s four.

Amherst coach Paul Biddle was pleased with the win, especially in the singles matches.

Sonya Bangia (6-0, 6-0 over Linda Chen at first singles) and Serena Bangia (6-0, 6-2 over Kathryn Wilson at second singles) won their matches quickly and then impressed Biddle by asking to practice on an open court.

“That is a good sign for our top two players,” he said.

Sophie Schwartz won her first varsity match, winning 6-0, 6-0 over Giulianna Roth at third singles.

“[Sophie] has a little bit of growing to do in terms of being assertive on the court, but her play was excellent,” Biddle said.

Maddy Buisch and Olivia Cannizzaro beat Nastya Korsh and Anna Sheehan, 6-2, 6-0, at first doubles, and Alana Blenman and Emma Tanevich beat Sara Dressler and Arsela Farsi, 6-0, 6-0, at second doubles.

“Our doubles teams played well, but I am still not happy with the shot selections and strategies that we are trying to implement,” he said. “The lineup is not set at these positions yet and we still have more work [to do] on game strategy, execution and overall improvement.”

Biddle said the only close match against Sweet Home was at second doubles where Buisch and Gentile won over Karina Cole and Jenelle Grimm, 6-4, 6-4.

“While it is nice to get the win, we cannot get complacent and continually need to improve our game,” Biddle said.

Amherst’s match against Springville on Sept. 11 was cancelled due to weather and has been rescheduled as part of a doubleheader at Amherst on Sept. 25.

On Thursday, Amherst played a non-league doubleheader against Maryvale and Lancaster at Lancaster High School.

Biddle said even though these two teams are not in Amherst’s division, he has developed a close relationship with both coaches, Kristy and Erik Keller.

“I consider them two of the finest coaches around and they have a great attitude about making matches more than just a win-loss situation,” Biddle said. “We turned this event into a match, but also brought snacks and had some social time. The girls genuinely like each other and have practiced together. It was just an all-around good time.”

Biddle said the Maryvale match could not have been any tighter. Amherst won 3-2, but for the first time since he became coach, it came down to literally one point.

He said the coaches decided ahead of time to play pro-sets with no ad scoring. The match was tied at 2-2 and Sonya Bangia was tied 7-7 at first singles.

In that deciding game, the score was deuce, meaning the next point won the match for either team. Unfortunately, an unforced error from Maryvale gave Amherst the point and match.

“You never want to see such a great match end that way, but such is life in tennis,” Biddle said.

Sonya Bangia won 8-7 at first singles, Serena Bangia won 8-6 at second singles, Schwartz lost 7-8 at third singles, Cannizzaro and Tanevich won 8-6 at first doubles, and Busich and Gentile lost 8-6 at second doubles.

“I don’t remember the last time we had a match where every position was decided within a game or two,” Biddle said. “Kudos to Maryvale for having such a well-prepared team.”

Biddle said he knew against Lancaster that they were going to struggle in terms of the score, but he said the team played a better match than Maryvale.

“They have two of the best players in ECICs and one of the top two or three teams in ECIC,” Biddle said. “We lost this match 0-5, but were able to get several games in several positions. Our girls just liked the chance to play against a tough opponent to see how they could do. I love that about this team.”

Sonya Bangia lost to Jaiden McKee, 0-8, but played some great points.

“She was at deuce at 0-7 and had a chance to steal a game, but was not successful,” Biddle said. “Still, to play a tennis player at that caliber and be in some points will only make Sonya better.’

Serena Bangia played Paige Syzmusiak and lost 3-8 at second singles.

“Paige was a state singles player from last year and Serena was excited to play somebody of that stature,” Biddle said. “Getting three games also gave her a big confidence boost.”

Both doubles teams lost 3-8, but again had many positive moments, Biddle said. He said Buisch came off the court after losing at second doubles saying, “Mr. Biddle, we lost but we played really well.”

“I love that attitude with our team,” Biddle said.

In another matter: Biddle nominated Tanevich as Amherst’s athlete of the week.

“She started the season at exhibition, and with her hard work and great net play, I put her in the starting lineup at second doubles,” Biddle said. “After playing really well there, I have now bumped her up to first doubles. She is by far the most improved player since the start of this season.”

Amherst hosts Williamsville South at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday and Williamsville East at 4:30 p.m. on Friday.

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