With Conestoga having earned an inside track to the Central League girl’s tennis title, the Rams took to the courts Thursday at Radnor hoping to avoid another blemish on their record.
In a match that featured five of the sets going to tie-breaks, the Rams outlasted the host Raiders 4-3 to raise their record to 11-1 overall and 7-1 in the Central League.
The Rams jumped picked up the first point quickly thanks to Hannah Drayton, who defeated Meredith Pollack 6-0, 6-1 at first singles. The fourth doubles team of Laine Solomon and Rachel Heffler seemed poised to easily pick up the second point following their 6-2 first set win. However, the Radnor pair of Olivia Dardais and Reneta Ladron DeGuevera had no intention of going down without a fight.
That is exactly what happened in the second set, as the Radnor duo fought back from a 5-2 deficit to force a second set tie-break. In the tie break, the Rams' duo of Solomon and Heffler continued to fight and eventually won 8-6 in the tiebreak to win the set and the match 6-2, 7-6 (6).
Harriton then picked up a crucial third point thanks to Samantha Krouse and Samantha Kerstein at third doubles when they handed Carly Pietrobono and Caitlin Carney a 6-2, 6-4 defeat.
With the Rams now standing one point away from clinching the match, the host Raiders put the celebration on hold as they picked up wins at first and second doubles to cut Harriton’s once comfortable 3-0 lead to 3-2.
With Radnor gaining a renewed sense of hope that they could pull out a win, Harriton’s Rachel Benstock clinched the win when she defeated Emily Liu 6-2, 7-6 (2) at second singles.
“To help pick up a key win is incredible,” Benstock said. “To be one of the new kids on the team and beat a quality opponent definitely gives me confidence moving forward.”
Despite winning the first set 6-2, Benstock knew that Liu would not quit. The pair battled through a second set that would eventually go to a tiebreak. In the tiebreak, Benstock regained her focus and went up 5-1 before winning 7-2 to win the match and clinch the win for Harriton.
“I learned a lot from this match,” said Benstock. “It taught me how to stay focused and also to relax and play my game.”
As Harriton continues to wind down its Central League schedule, the Rams will begin preparations for its final run in the PIAA District One Class AA tournament before hopefully getting a chance to qualify for the PIAA Class AA State tournament.
The seven-time PIAA Class AA State Champions are hoping to end their run in style before moving up to Class AAA next year.
Postseason success “would mean a lot,” Benstock said. “The coaching staff and team believed in me and hopefully I could do my part.”