Tanners sweep Bulldogs, qualify for state tournament

Shaelyn Kelley and the Tanners qualified for the state tournament. (Item Photo by Anne Marie Tobin )

PEABODY — The Peabody girls tennis team punched its state tournament ticket, defeating Lynn English 5-0 at home to qualify for the Division 1 North tournament after a one-year hiatus.

With the win, the Tanners improved to 8-1.

“We had only 15 matches this year because I didn’t want to gum up the works with all these makeup games we usually have in the spring,” said Peabody coach Lorraine Benoit.  “The girls feel good knowing they qualified after not making it last year. Now we just want to keep winning as many matches as possible to get a higher seed. In the past we have had unlucky draws in the bracket, even when we had 15-win seasons.”

Junior Brooke Hodas got things started, winning the first singles match at love, 6-0, 6-0, over English senior Tora Veland.

After senior Angela Ferrer defeated sophomore Khommany Phommachanh in the third singles match, 6-2, 6-0, and Peabody’s first doubles team of senior Lindsey Kouroyen and sophomore Caitlin Bettencourt defeated  the sophomore team of Adamma Uzoma and Zabdy Velize, 6-1, 6-1, the Tanners had the points they needed to clinch the match.

Senior Shaelyn Kelley completed the singles sweep with a 6-3, 6-0 win over junior Pam Rosales.

The second doubles match was the closest of the day.  Peabody sophomores Becca Truong and Elizabeth Newton took the first set easily, 6-2, over sophomore Talia Dudley and junior Genesi Duarte.  But Dudley/Duarte pushed the Tanners duo to the limit in the second set before falling 7-5.

For Bulldogs’ coach Lauren Mezzetti, despite the fact that the 0-9 Bulldogs are still in search of that elusive first win, the team is showing signs of improvement.

“We did win some games today, so that was good, and our second doubles team especially was competitive,” she said. “It’s been a tough season as we graduated the whole team from last year, so they are all new.  Most of the girls have never played and I have a couple who were JV players last year, but mostly we pretty much started over.

But they are doing well and getting better each week. They are still struggling with their serves.”

The Tanners tennis program has seen a huge return to relevance.

“This year we are strong in numbers with 22 girls, so things are really good for Peabody tennis this year for the girls and the boys as well,” Benoit said.  “Last year the boys didn’t even have a team, but they got some kids from Danvers and formed the co-op team, so they are moving along quite well, too.

“The girls came back with a huge rejuvenation, clear in their heads knowing that had to improve to compete so they are listening more.  So they are being rewarded for their commitment this year. They know what they have to do especially when they win the first set, then lose the second, which is tough, but they are learning to come back and win.”

Benoit said the key to the season has been at singles.

“All three singles players have been playing great, and we also are getting points from first doubles from out mainstays, April Horwarth and Lindsey, and I’ve been able to rotate several players at second doubles when things like AP tests and school cause kids to miss matches.”

Peabody’s next match is Monday at Marblehead (4) while English plays Classical at Breed this afternoon (4).

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