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CVU girls tennis team reclaims state title

The CVU girls tennis team gathers for a group shot after winning the title. (Observer courtesy photo by Alvin Joseph)
The CVU girls tennis team gathers for a group shot after winning the title. (Observer courtesy photo by Alvin Joseph)

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

According to Champlain Valley Union High’s number one singles player, junior Kathy Joseph, the weather conditions (sunny, around 75 degrees) were excellent for tennis Thursday at Shelburne’s Davis Park.

The top-seeded Redhawks’ were also excellent as they scored a 5-2 triumph over second seed and defending champion South Burlington High to grab their third Division 1 crown in the last four years.

CVU finished with a 16-0 record, its fifth unblemished campaign since 2009. Some would rank coach Amy deGroot’s program in the preeminent category. South Burlington would be close to it, having faced off against the Redhawks in the last three finals and at some point in all past seven tournaments.

Joseph was the first triumphant player on the courts, having defeated the Rebels’ Layla Badnjevic 6-0 and 6-1 in some 40 minutes with returns that had on-looking sports reporters’ jaws dropping in awe.

“The conditions were good, there was no real wind and my serves were going well,” said Joseph after the win, which completed an unbeaten season that included a second straight Vermont singles championship.

Next to finish was number 5 singles player Isabelle Angstman. She scored 6-1 and 6-1 victories over South Burlington alternate Augie Arms.

“She did well, it was a really good match,” said Angstman of her foe. A junior with three years on the team, she recalled last year when a veteran Rebels’ team took the title from CVU after the Redhawks had lost seven members, including four singles players, by graduation.

“We all improved as the year went on,” Angstman said, a sentiment coach deGroot echoed adding, “The girls worked very hard, including in the off season.”

CVU’s lone senior in singles, Mackenzie Buckman, won 6-3 and 6-4 over Sophie Bujold.

“My game was on and off, but mostly it was alright,” Buckman said.

At about the same time, perhaps just a moment before, freshman Stephanie Joseph completed a 6-1, 6-4 win over Sajani Sivakumar in a clash of number 2 singles. With Stephanie Joseph and Buckman winning at almost the same time, the Redhawks were up 4-0 and had clinched the championship bauble.

Their final victory came in number 2 doubles, when Erika Barth and Renee Dauerman ground out a 7-5, 3-6, 10-4 (tiebreaker) over South Burlington’s state tournament doubles finalists Amanda Anderson and Vaishnavi Andra.

“That was a big accomplishment,” said deGroot of the victory.

Barth noted that she and Dauerman played together all season and know each other very well.

Dauerman, a freshman, called the match “really challenging. We got a little over-confident after winning the first game. After the second game (6-3 loss), we were humbled, but then able to pull out the win.”

South Burlington’s two triumphs then came from two-time doubles champions Ana Wulfson and Jasmina Jasufagic over CVU’s Meara Heininger and Sara Erickson, 6-2 and 6-1.

A lengthy match between number 3 singles players went to the Rebels’ Aster O’Leary over Elyse Killkelley, 7-5, 6-2.

CVU returns 13 of the 15-player roster next spring including the Joseph sisters, both of whom said yes, there is a bit of a sibling rivalry, but they cheer each other on.