SHELBURNE – Something felt different about this year’s Division I girls tennis state championship.
And yet everything felt very similar. The location, Davis Park. The opponents, South Burlington and Champlain Valley Union High School (CVU). The result?
Top-seed Champlain Valley Union took on South Burlington for the seventh year in a row, but this time, the Redhawks entered the match with something on their record: a loss.
“South Burlington is an awesome team, they are scrappy, they get every ball back,” said CVU coach Amy deGroot. “They are tough to play.”
The Wolves handed CVU its first setback in 75 games this season and it felt like this might be the year that South Burlington finally beat the four-time defending champs.
Instead, CVU won the first four matches in straight sets and clinched its fifth straight state championship.
“We worked really hard as a team for this,” said CVU’s No. 1 singles player Sophie Dauerman. “It hasn’t been one of our easiest seasons and all those girls put in everything they have every practice and we are just so thankful for each other and our incredible coaches.”
South Burlington earned a 4-3 win over the Redhawks in the final weeks of the regular season, fighting their way through six matchbreakers to earn the win. So, both teams were prepared for a tight game.
“I think we were just kind of ready, we were fired up from the past game and the outcome of that,” said CVU’s Ella Kenney. “We were all like ‘we got this.’”
Courtney Vincent and Lindsay Beer started things off in No. 1 doubles, beating South Burlington’s Katrina Khosravi and Sage Bennett, 6-3, 6-2. Corina Gorman gave CVU a 2-0 lead soon after, beating Kailei Eustis 6-2, 6-3 in No. 2 singles.
Dauerman made it 3-0 with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Kailey Yang in No. 1 singles.
“It was just really important that we all went out there like it was any other match,” Dauerman said. “Just put on our blinders and focus on our tennis.”
One player who was focused was Kenney, who was on court looking for the fourth victory for her team but had no idea that it was her win that could clinch.
But clinch it she did, beating Rayna Brosseau 6-3, 6-3 for a fifth straight.
“I had no idea, I was so focused on hitting the ball and getting it in,” the sophomore said. “Somebody was like ‘that was it, you got it,’ … I didn’t understand.”
Izzy Partillo earned the first victory for the Wolves, beating CVU’s Kate Gruendling 6-1, 6-4. But it was too little, too late.
“It’s no slam dunk,” deGroot said. “Every match is difficult with South Burlington so to come out and win 5-2 and to get the first four matches was a huge relief. It’s hugely key, it takes the pressure off of everybody.”
Julai Grant wrapped up the singles wins for CVU, beating Nisha Shah 6-2, 7-6 in No. 5 singles. South Burlington grabbed the last win of the day, with Emma Shedleur and Eve Heroux beating Julia Blanck and Riley Boucher in No. 2 doubles.
“It feels fantastic, we are all just so excited,” Dauerman said.
CVU is thankful for the title for another reason. The team lost longtime assistant coach Ian deGroot before the season started.
“He’s definitely is here with us and I know the girls were playing extra hard for him,” Amy deGroot said. “I was coaching extra hard for him and we definitely feel his presence.
“It is hugely meaningful to me.”
Champlain Valley finished the season with a 14-1 record.