By Amy deGroot
Special to the Observer
The Champlain Valley Union girls tennis team capped another undefeated season Thursday, June 2, with a narrow win against South Burlington, 4-3 in the finals of the team championships to become Vermont State Champions for a second year in a row.
It’s the seventh Vermont Division I State title the tennis team has landed in the past 10 years.
Two weeks prior, several members of the team had strong performances at the Vermont State Individuals Tournament, held May 19-21 in Warren, Vt. This tournament determines the strongest singles players and doubles teams in the state.
Winning for singles for the third year in a row was Kathy Joseph, while her sister Stephanie Joseph placed third. The doubles team of Erika Barth and Meara Heininger placed second.
The team was led by five seniors: Kathy Joseph (1st singles), Elyse Killkelley (4th singles), Isabelle Angstman (5th singles), Sara Erickson (1st doubles) and Erika Barth (2nd doubles). These seniors set the tone for this very strong and dedicated group of players. No other team except South Burlington was able to win a match against us all season and the lineup was constantly juggled to give everyone a chance to compete. Undefeated for two years in a row, the team has a 34-0 match run.
But it was the hotly anticipated finals between the two long-time rivals, CVU and South Burlington, that provided the most excitement seen at the tennis courts in a long time! Both teams have strong players throughout their lineups and every match is a battle. For the finals, the players from both teams played great tennis and the contest was as close as it gets!
When South Burlington unexpectedly won at #2 singles, you could feel the energy of their team’s fans swell and see the new adrenaline kick into their players. The overall score was two matches all. There were three singles matches yet to finish — 1st, 4th and 5th singles. Each team knew that the outcome of the match hung heavily on the 4th and 5th singles matches, both of which were in match breakers because playing for CVU at 1st singles was Kathy Joseph who had been playing in a league of her own all season long.
CVU’s Elyse Killkelley, at 4th singles withstood the pressure, and hit her shots with authority to defeat one of South Burlington’s premier players, Sajani Sivakumar. South Burlington’s Kaily Yang defeated CVU’s Isabelle Angstman in tight match breaker at 5th singles. The match was tied at 3-3.
Kathy Joseph defeated Lajla Badnejevic to clinch the title for CVU. Customarily, the first one off her court every match, it was a nice finishing touch to Kathy’s outstanding career to have her bring in the defining point.
We’ll be bidding a sad farewell to the Williston seniors who are leaving us — Kathy Joseph, Isabelle Angstman, Sara Erickson and Erika Barth — but are looking forward to what junior year brings for Williston players Stephanie Joseph, Megan Watson and Madeline Huber.
Amy deGroot has been the girls tennis coach at CVU for seven years, and led them to a fifth Div. I title in 2016. The Observer invited her to share her end-of-year reflections on the 2016 season.