pburke@ricentral.com

PAWTUCKET  –  After handling No. 7 Smithfield, 4-0, in the quarterfinals of the RIIL Division I playoffs, the No. 2 Avenger’s girls’ tennis team fell, 4-2, in a rematch against No. 3 Moses Brown at Slater Park on Friday.

“We just had a pretty strong effort from top to bottom from our singles versus Smithfield,” Avenger head coach Marc Brocato said.  “From Bayley [Sheinin] and Sophie [Fulghum] at 1-2 to Lee [Lange] at 3, they all played well.”

Freshman Bayley Sheinin defeated Smithfield sophomore Amara Devine, 6-2, 6-1, at No. 1 singles.  At No. 2 singles, senior Sophie Fulghum beat freshman Erica Botelho, 6-1, 6-0.  At No. 3 singles, junior Lee Lange defeated senior Juliet Batek, 6-2, 6-1.

Juniors Callie Wehr and Ana Karabots defeated Tara Deming and Jo-Ann Fiano, 6-4, 6-0 to give EG their final point.

EG (12-1 in the league) beat the Quakers (10-3) 4-3 in their first meeting in late September.  But in the very next match, they’d lose a key contributor, which changed the whole landscape and shifted the advantage when they played Moses Brown the second time.

“We lost our No. 2 [freshman] Maddie Omicioli after the seventh match,” Brocato said.  “She is a top-six talent in the state, so that made us adjust our lineup quite radically. Only three out of our 10 players were not affected by it. I have a problem with how the rules state you have to radically adjust your ladder so severely, but it is what it is.”

“We played very well against MB but came up just short,” Brocato continued.  “We knew with Maddie’s injury that we would be evenly matched. They swept us at doubles, which was not what we expected. I thought we could have performed better there.”

“We never waver on our expectations,” Brocato said.  “Not even after Maddie went down did we expect to lose. It’s just not part of our mentality. You don’t win 123 out of our last 131 matches by having low expectations. If you give yourself an excuse or a chance to feel sorry for yourself after a teammate’s injury, chances are you will settle for something less than your best. It’s not a mindset conducive for winning.”

At No. 1 singles, Quaker sophomore Candice Ballarin beat Sheinin, 6-3, 7-5.  Senior Sophie Fulghum beat senior Kinara Gasper, 6-3, 6-2, at No. 2.  Junior Sarah Turchetta won over senior Danya Weinshel, 6-2, 6-0.

“Sophie played great against an opponent who has been a little bit of a thorn in her side,” Brocato said.  “I was proud of how she performed in the last match of her exceptional career. She has been a blessing to me.”

“Sarah was unbelievable,” Brocato continued.  “Since I have had her as a freshman, we have a running joke of how I am trying to transform that brain of hers. She is unbelievable when she plays by instinct. That match, she did. She was emotional before the match thinking about her seniors, but she composed herself and just beat the heck out of the girl she played. She dominated.”

It was in the doubles where the Quakers would take the match.  Senior Aili Moffet and junior Natalie Sepe beat the team of Wehr and Karabots, 6-4, 6-4.  Seniors Georgia Griffin and Zara Salem won at No. 2 doubles over senior Nikki Kanis and junior Cate Huling, 6-4, 6-2.  At. The third doubles, sophomores Vibha Kamath and Natasha Gorriaran defeated freshman Lola Verret and senior Roxana Garakani, 7-5, 6-2.

Seniors Fulghum, Garakani, Kanis, Isabella Marasco, and Caroline McAndrews played their last match as Avengers.

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