Lions bitten by Sharks yet again

by Beacon Staff • October 27, 2011

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divstrongEvan Sporer, Beacon Staff/strong/div

divThe Emerson women’s tennis team had already run the proverbial gauntlet./div

divLess than a month ago, its coach resigned after only leading the team through its first five matches./div

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The team responded by winning five of its next six matches./div

divThen, on Saturday, they played Emmanuel College for the right to play in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) finals./div

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Hurdle cleared./div

divBut only 16 hours removed from a hard-fought 5-4 win over Emmanuel, the Lions were forced to take the court opposite the Simmons Sharks, the only GNAC team to have defeated Emerson this season, and the three-time defending GNAC women’s tennis champions./div

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And finally, the clock struck midnight./div

divSimmons’ depth proved to be too much for Emerson, and the Lions fell to the Sharks 6-3, as Simmons captured its fourth consecutive GNAC tennis championship./div

div“Simmons played well at the end of the day. They’re well coached, and they have a nice top-to-bottom roster,” said Rob Spofford, who has helped out with the coaching duties for the past few weeks./div

divSpofford, an assistant coach on Emerson’s softball team, volunteered to help coach the women’s tennis team after former coach John Nestel resigned Sept. 28. Spofford had been with the Lions since an Oct. 15 match against St. Joseph (Conn.)./div

div“We’re a tennis family,” Spofford said, who added that both he and his daughter are tennis players. “I’ve been around tennis for a while.”/div

divFrom the onset of the match, the Sharks showed why they were the three-time defending champions./div

divThe Lions put themselves in an early hole, as Simmons swept the doubles competition to open the day./div

divA loss by the number one pairing of Savannah Mosser and Lacey Russell marked the first time the sophomores had lost in GNAC competition all season./div

div“It was upsetting; we tried everything we could do, but the other team was just better,” Mosser said. “I think the other team was just more aggressive. We made a lot of mistakes and unforced errors.”/div

divAfter collecting the points, the Sharks needed to take only two of the six singles matches to claim the title.

Simmons won three./div

divMosser and Russell recovered from their doubles defeat, quickly doing away with their opponents with 2-0 victories (6-2, 6-0, and 6-1, 6-1 respectively)./div

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Emerson’s other singles victory came from captain Gina Varamo, who dropped the first set 6-3, clawed back to win two lengthy tiebreak sets 7-6 and 10-8. As GNAC Commissioner Joe Walsh congratulated both teams on successful seasons after the match, Varamo stepped up and accepted the second place plaque for Emerson./div

divBut despite the loss, many of Emerson’s players felt confident in their future prospects. There were no seniors on this year’s team, and the top three players were all sophomores./div

div“We’re going to win [the finals] next year,” Russell said./div