Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shaker sweep: Blue Bison win Section II individual and doubles tennis titles

Shaker High School junior Cat Crummey competes against Emma Willard's Claire Schmitz during Tuesday's Section II individual final. Crummey won her second straight Section II title, 6-3, 6-3. (Photos by Mike McMahon - The Record).

SCHENECTADY — The perfect season isn’t over quite yet for the Shaker High School girls tennis team, but it got that much sweeter Tuesday afternoon.

Shaker junior Cat Crummey defeated Emma Willard freshman Claire Schmitz in the Section II individual championship match, 6-3, 6-3, claiming her second straight Section II individual title at Sportime.

Shaker’s first doubles team of junior Catherine Jenkins and freshman Shannon Mukerji, the No. 2 seeded entry, defeated Emma Willard’s top-seeded duo of Molly Goodman and Mitali Das, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, as the Blue Bison claimed the Section II doubles title as well.

It marked the first time since 2002 that a school has captured both the individual singles and doubles champions in Section II. Shaker did that in 2002 (Amanda O’Hearn; Emily Emerick & Joshleen Sandhu) and also in 2001 (O’Hearn; Emerick & Kim Paul).

The Blue Bison hit the trifecta with the Section II team title in both of those years as well, something Shaker has a shot at in 2010. Emma Willard and undefeated Shaker (12-0) will square off for the Section II Class AA team title Thursday at 2 p.m. in Schenectady’s Central Park.

“It’s amazing having five girls here and Cat winning and us too,” said Jenkins. “It’s really great and the school is really supportive of what we do.”

Shaker High School junior Catherine Jenkins competes in the Section II doubles championship Tuesday at Sportime in Schenectady.

Crummey, who did not lose a set in sectional competition this year, will return to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association tournament for the third straight season. She was the Section II singles champion in 2009 and played on the second-place doubles team in 2008 along with Ali Coyle.

Tuesday’s championship match pitted her against Emma Willard’s Schmitz, who plays with Crummey in team tennis in the high school offseason.

“Claire and I are good friends, so it was fun to play against her. She’s a good player,” Crummey said. “It was definitely a match that I had to focus and play my game at.”

Schmitz, who will make her second straight trip to the state meet, as she placed third overall last year after losing to Crummey in semifinals, could not be all that mad after falling to her friend Crummey again in 2010.

“It doesn’t make it as tragic. It’s like, you know, she’s not meaning any harm, I guess,” Schmitz, at left, laughed.

In consolation action, Guilderland’s Gaby Peda, the No. 4 seed, upset Shenendehowa’s Jessica Macaluso, the No. 3 seed, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 to claim third place and a trip to the state tournament.

In doubles, the No. 7 seeded team from Shenendehowa, Taru Greene and Kristen Brayden, defeated Shaker’s No. 8 ranked team of Eleana Wolner and Molly O’Conner, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 to clinch third place and a berth in the state tournament.

The New York State tournament begins Nov. 6 at the East Side Racquet Club in Manlius.
Jenkins and Mukerji, who had never played doubles together until one week ago Monday, played an entertaining match in the doubles championship.

Emma Willard’s team of Das and Goodman took an early lead in the first set, but the Blue Bison stormed back to record a 6-4 triumph. The Jesters won the second match, but Jenkins and Mukerji adjusted their strategy and held on for the decisive 6-1 third set victory.

“I have a nasty habit of having to come back from huge deficits, so I think I kind of passed that on,” said Jenkins. “But we just really tried to focus and get it done and we were lucky enough to have that happen.”

“You can be down 5-0 or 40-love and you can always come back,” Mukerji said. “You can never give up in tennis.”

Shaker High School freshman Shannon Mukerji competes in the Section II doubles final Tuesday at Sportime.

Section II individual finals
Singles championship: (1) Crummey (Shaker) def. (2) Schmitz (Emma Willard), 6-3, 6-3.
Singles consolation: (4) Peda (Guilderland) def. (3) Macaluso (Shenendehowa), 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.
Doubles championship: (2) Jenkins & Mukerji (Shaker) def. (1) Das & Goodman (Emma Willard), 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.
Doubles consolation: (7) Greene & Brayden (Shenendehowa) def. (8) Wolner & O’Conner (Shaker), 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.
  • Notes:  Nitty Singh, owner of the New York Buzz World Team Tennis club, was among those in attendance at Tuesday's Section II finals. She made personal pitches to the finalists, hoping they would perform demonstrations prior to Buzz matches in the future. It would be an interesting way to promote Section II tennis.

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