Pates blank Hawks on the courts
In the first of three Bethlehem rivalry tennis matches that will have been played this season, Freedom shut out Bethlehem Catholic, 6-0, on Sept. 7 at Freedom.
“I thought we played, for the most part, consistent. We kept the ball in play, and we didn’t double fault at all. I didn’t see one double fault, which is important. You don’t want to give away points, and we kept the ball in play, so I think that was the important thing today against a team that’s young and inexperienced,” said Freedom coach Mark Sigmon. “That’s what you have to do.”
Becahi’s Ava Burkhart had the best chance of ruining the shutout with a three-set match against Liyana Paiker at two singles, winning a first-set tiebreak, 7-6 (7-2).
“Liyana made unforced errors today which is uncharacteristic of her, and then she played much better at the end of the second set. She won three games in a row,” Coach Sigmon said. “Then she’d be up in the tiebreaker and then it went even, and it was unforced errors and we have to cut those out.”
Paiker clinched the second set, 6-4.
“My forehands were really good but she sliced every one, so she knew how to come back on them. That’s what made it a bit difficult,” Paiker said. “[Coach Sigmon] kept telling me to relax because I was really tense the first set. That might be why I lost because I was up by a lot.”
Paiker and Burkhart played a third-set pro set as skies darkened, signaling an impending thunderstorm, and Paiker won, 10-8.
“I started coming back, being smart. I would usually smash it, it would go out, I would get a little bit frustrated, but I decided to keep the ball in play. [Coach Sigmon] says that a lot. Play it safe, I guess,” said Paiker. “I think this is the match I’m proudest of. I started losing faith, but then I kept going.”
At one singles, Navya Manne won, 6-1, 6-1, over French exchange student Victoire Claudel, and at three singles, Arleen Nagra won, 6-4, 6-2, against Josie Fiorini.
“I wanted to focus on the placement of my balls because obviously, when I was hitting it back, she could return it, but I realized if I hit more toward the corners, she wasn’t able to get there as fast,” said Nagra. “I think the biggest challenge was that she was able to rally back and forth, and that was giving me a problem. Having to run to all those balls so much without a break was a little stressful.”
In doubles play, Sofiia Nabyt and Khadeeja Hussain won for the Patriots at number two over Judy Pintor and Narao Erdazio, 6-2, 6-1.
Freedom’s number three doubles team of Misha Braski and Katie Ryer won, 6-0, 6-4, against Madison Araniego and Elizabeth Schock, and at four doubles, Daniela Guzzo and Viola Avitabile won, 6-0, 6-1, against Louisa Robinson and Sofia Fiorini.
The Patriots’ record is 5-4 as of Sept. 7 with four tough matches upcoming.
“We have a shot at Emmaus, but we have to play really, really well because they have a decent team, and we have to do what we have to do,” Sigmon said.