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The Hand girls’ tennis team stands with the SCC title for the third-straight spring after beating Amity by a 5-2 margin in the conference final at Yale University on May 22. (Photo courtesy of Al Carbone )
Junior Sam Riordan won her No. 1 singles match in three sets to help the Tigers defeat Amity in the SCC final. Riordan was named the Most Outstanding Player of the SCC Tournament. (Photo by Susan Lambert/The Source | Buy This Photo)
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For the third year in a row, Hand and Amity met up at center court with the SCC girls’ tennis title on the line. Just like the previous two seasons, the Tigers emerged from the matchup with a conference crown in their grasp after earning a 5-2 victory versus the Spartans in the championship clash last week.
The Tigers earned the top seed in the SCC Tournament after finishing with a perfect record of 17-0 for the regular season. Hand went on to defeat Foran and Lauralton Hall in the opening rounds to reach the conference final for the fourth-straight year and a showdown against No. 2 seed Amity at Yale University on May 22.
Hand dispatched the Spartans by the final score of 5-2 to claim its ninth SCC Tournament title in program history. The Tigers had to win a pair of three-set matches to take the title. One of those victories came from junior Sam Riordan, who won a marathon contest at No. 1 singles on her way to being named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.
“I’m so lucky to be a part of a team that has won SCCs three years in a row. Our record and title are a reflection of how hard we work as a team and how we are like a family off the court,” said Riordan, whose club later improved to 21-0 by winning its Class M State Tournament opener. “Having the people who I love cheering me on gave me the strength I needed to win my second and third sets. As long as we are there for each other, nothing is impossible for this team.”
Riordan and her sister, sophomore No. 2 singles player Lindsay Riordan, both made the All-SCC Team for the Tigers. Hand’s No. 1 doubles team of junior Anna Lang and freshman Claire Langille also garnered All-Conference honors.
“To win SCCs again means that we have come together as a team both on and off the court,” said Lang. “Over the course of the training and season, we have worked hard and, as a result, we are better players and friends. I very proud of the team as a whole and what we’ve all accomplished.”
Sam Riordan gutted out a 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Sarah Bullers at No. 1 singles in the SCC final. At No. 2 singles, Lindsay Riordan took a 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) defeat against Sydney Pitter. Junior Annie Barrett clinched the victory for Hand by earning a 6-1, 1-6, 6-2 win versus Adithi Wijesekera in the No. 3 singles duel. In the No. 4 singles match, sophomore Eileen Chen lost a 7-6 (7-4), 6-0 contest against Amity’s Chloe Gherlone.
The Tigers swept the Spartans on the doubles’ side of the court. Lang and Langille netted a 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 win over Catalina Betancour and Annika Minnotti in the No. 1 contest. Hand’s No. 2 tandem of freshman Bella Vejar and sophomore Paige Van Ostenbridge defeated Eesha Achary and Gabby McGovern by the final score of 3-6, 7-5, 6-4. At No. 3 doubles, senior captain Catherine Aranow and freshman Breanna Colonese-DiBello claimed a 6-0, 6-3 win over Jennifer Xu and Rosie Du.
Head Coach Kitty Palmer knew that the Tigers were going to have their hands full with Amity, especially after her team had to squeak out a 4-3 victory over the Spartans in a regular-season matchup between the two teams.
“After our last meeting with them, I knew this would the girls’ toughest match of the year. We had so many three-setters, but we prevailed in all three. The girls hung tough and never gave up,” said Palmer, who’s in her 19th season as head coach. “Hats off to the girls. I’m so proud of them. They kept fighting. It was a long day with a nice ending.”
Previously, Hand had earned a 7-0 victory against No. 8 seed Foran in the SCC quarterfinals on May 20. The Tigers received singles victories from Sam Riordan (6-0, 6-0), Lindsay Riordan (6-2, 6-1), Barrett (6-1, 6-0), and Chen (6-4, 0-6, 10-6). The Tigers’ doubles teams of Lang and Langille (6-0, 6-1), Vejar and Van Ostenbridge (6-0, 6-1), and Aranow and Colonese-DiBello (6-0, 6-3) were also victorious.
The next day, the Tigers netted a 6-1 win over No. 4 Lauralton Hall in the semifinals at Yale. Sam Riordan (6-1, 6-1), Lindsay Riordan (6-0, 6-0), Barrett (6-0, 6-0), and Chen (6-3, 6-1) all won their singles contests. Lang and Langille won a 7-5, 6-1 decision, while Aranow and Colonese-DiBello prevailed by the final score of 7-6, (7-4), 6-3.
After playing their last regular-season match on May 9, the Tigers went a week without competing prior to the three-day SCC Tournament. Coach Palmer said that her squad did everything it needed to do in order to stay sharp entering the postseason.
“We practice every other day, and we practiced the Sunday before SCCs started,” said Palmer, whose team has won 54-straight regular-season contests. “I knew that if we went the full three days here, it would be a grind, especially for the singles players who play every day without a partner. But these girls have stuck together, and they get along so well. This win is a big season highlight.”
On the heels of SCCs, the Tigers opened up the Class M State Tournament as the top seed and posted a 7-0 home shutout against No. 17 RHAM in the first round on May 25. The Class M final is taking place at 3 p.m. on Thursday, May 30.
From the Sidelines
Hand’s roster also includes sophomore Eliza Beccia, along with freshmen Callan Mascia and Ella Scarice.
This marked the fourth-straight meeting between Hand and Amity in the SCC final. In 2016, Amity defeated Hand 5-2 to take the Division I crown. The following year, the Tigers edged out the Spartans 4-3 to win the SCC Tournament. Last season, Hand beat Amity 5-2 in the final.
During the regular season, Hand earned wins versus Guilford (7-0 and 7-0), Sacred Heart Academy (7-0 and 7-0), Lauralton Hall (5-2 and 6-1), Amity (6-1 and 4-3), Sheehan (7-0), Hamden (7-0), Branford (7-0), Shelton (4-0), Foran (6-1), Mercy (7-0), Cheshire (7-0), North Haven (6-1), and Law (7-0).
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