Bedford girls beat Concord to advance
The weather brought a chilly temperature to the air, but that was not enough to cool down the racquets of the Bedford High School girls tennis team against Concord on Wednesday.
The No. 1 Bulldogs claimed all six singles matches on the way to a 9-0 win over the No. 8 Crimson Tide in the Division I quarterfinal round.
Bedford (15-0) took the matches by deficits of no fewer than four games. The closest decisions were 8-4 victories by No. 1 Julie Aichinger, over Concord’s Gabby Killinger, and at No. 4, where Anitha Machupalli beat Rebecca Cistulli.
Machupalli was kept in check initially while holding a 3-2 lead, but then broke out to four straight to take make it 7-2.
“She started coming into the net and that won her a lot of points because she had really good angles and then I started to pass her in the end,” Machupalli said.
Cistulli managed to mount two more straight tallies before Machupalli closed out the match.
“I stayed mostly consistent in my match and I out played her,” Machupalli said. “She was getting most of the balls back so she made me work for it.”
Killinger kept pace with Aichinger at an early 4-3 deficit, but the Bedford junior displayed some strong serves and resilient returns to run away in the win.
“The level of play was really high on all courts and they were matches that they really needed to focus on and needed to play their game in order to win,” said Bedford coach Kristen Perez.
The result was not far from what Concord coach Greg Coache expected to see in his group’s matchup with the top team in the state.
“They have great strokes as the other team does, but you can see that the other team has been around a little bit more,” he said. “I think we are a year away and I’m very excited about where we can be going with this. Our goal was to make the playoffs and we did it.”
Three Concord (8-7) players were matched up with older opponents, but the Bulldogs have the advantage of experience after making it to the final round a year ago.
“The confidence of the girls has helped us out a lot,” Perez said. “The experience helps, but based on the match play and the success they’ve had, that confidence definitely helps them in tighter matches because they know that they can win.”
No. 2 Anna Corrao defeated Skye Reese, 8-2, and No. 3 Abigail Ramsay took down Alex Killinger, 8-2. Bedford also got a win from No. 5 Anli Zhang beat Irene Ireme, 8-1 and No. 6 Maylene LaPress, a freshman, succeeded over Concord senior Meagan Olive, 8-2.
“I felt we could come up with four points, but I couldn’t figure out where we could come up with that fifth point to pull of this big upset,” Coache said.
Along with preserving their flawless record, the win serves as a spring board of confidence for the Bulldogs as they continue their quest for the division title.
“It definitely gives us some momentum moving forward,” said Machupalli.
Bedford will host Winnacunnet (12-3) in the semifinals on Friday.