Exactly one week ago, Notre Dame girls tennis unfortunately had its team season come to an end as the Bulldogs fell by one match, 5-4, to St. Pius X for the Class 2 District 1 Championship.
Notre Dame came out of the doubles matches at a disadvantage having lost two of the three, which meant the Bulldogs then had to win four of their six singles matches in order to win the district title.
“Usually, we feel like we play doubles well, but we lost two doubles matches,” Bulldogs head coach Donna Ryan said. “Historically throughout the season, my kids have come back and won the matches with their singles matches. I expected them to come through with some kind of showing in singles.”
Notre Dame’s state-bound doubles team composed of juniors No. 1 Vita Galati and No. 2 Suna Mungee lost their doubles matchup by three at 8-5. They were facing St. Pius X’s duo of No. 1 junior Carolyne Argana and No. 2 senior Isabella Barbagallo, whom they both then faced in singles.
Galati took care of business against Argana by scores of 6-3 and 6-2, where the Bulldogs junior more than put her abilities on display in front of the home crowd to avenge the double’s loss.
“[Galati] really matured this season — it was neat to see that,” Coach Ryan said. “I’ve taught Vita tennis since she was a little kid, so it’s really neat to see them come through and develop into good-looking tennis players. They’ll have that with them all their lives, and that’s what Coach [Linda] Ruddy and I want — something for their lives and future.”
However, Mungee’s sing-les matchup versus Barbagallo needed to be decided via tiebreaker after they spilt sets 1-1. Suna took an early lead over Barbagallo, who then bounced back with a run of her own. The two then tied on several occasions before Barbagallo ended up winning 14-12.
Both of these players were all being watched by their respective teams as it was the final match of the district championships. Despite not coming away with the win, Coach Ryan was proud of how Mungee performed under pressure.
“It was the most exciting match we’ve had all year long and maybe in several years,” Coach Ryan said. “I think the kids handled it really well — Suna handled it really, really well. I was really proud of where she could put her serve in at certain times that were really nerve wracking.
“We talked about this before we started that if you got nervous at the end of the match and what you should do. She took care of things beautifully. Her nerves — nobody would’ve known.”
Winning the only doubles match for Notre Dame (14-5-2) against St. Pius X (13-2) was the senior duo of Katherine Moon and Monica Coello. Moon and Coello beat Lancers double team of seniors Lydia Hackbarth and Claire Arcipowski handedly by a score of 8-3.
After being down 2-1 following the doubles portion of the district final, the Bulldogs nearly pulled off the comeback as Moon picked up the win over Hackbarth (6-2, 6-2) in singles. Katherine had fallen to Hackbarth in the district singles tournament.
“It was bittersweet for [Moon] to win today, but it was an important win,” Coach Ryan said. “We were really glad to have her do it, and I think she really enjoyed beating that girl.”
Coello didn’t fair as well in her singles matchup against St. Pius X junior Chloe Kronlage as Kronlage won it 6-2, 6-2. Fellow Notre Dame senior Karoline Harold also ended up losing her singles bout to Lancers junior Brooke Madden 6-3, 6-1.
The third and final singles victory for the Bulldogs was by freshman Elle West, who defeated senior Arcipowski convincingly by scores of 6-3 and 6-0. West and Harold fell to Kronlage and Madden 8-1 in doubles.
“There’s a bunch of leaders on this team, and they don’t fight one another for leadership,” Coach Ryan said. “They seem to know how to manage it. One of them helps with us stretching, one of them helps with what they wear and one of them helps us lineup for pictures.
“They all contribute to the team, and they all follow one another. They ended the season as a beautiful team — win or lose. Here we lost, and they feel like winners, so that’s an important thing to me for them to have that kind of feeling. I told them Coach Ruddy and I didn’t have a chance to play on any team, so it’s beautiful to see that.”