By Jean LeBlanc
BERLIN — The Berlin girls' tennis team is returning a veteran team this season, and with the addition of senior Rylie Binette, the Moutnaineers got off to a solid start with wins over Prospect Mountain and Littleton.
The girls had to travel to Prospect Mountain on Monday because their courts were not ready, but the Mounties came home 7-2 winners. Top seed Audrey Coulombe defeated Gaby d’Empaire Porier 8-2. Berlin's Myra Arsenault was an 8-3 winner over Megan Francis; Emily Theriault fell 8-4 to Ava Blair; Binette defeated Serena Avery 8-2; sophomore Haley Coulombe battled to a 9-7 win over Ana Francis; and Becca Wild fell 8-5 to Sydney Dejager.
Leading 4-2, the Mounties swept the doubles for the 7-2 win. Top seeded duo of Audrey Coulombe/Arsenault won 8-3 over d’Empire Porier/Francis; Theriault/Downs rolled past Smith/Avery 8-2; and Binette/ Haley Coulombe fought past Francis/Emily 8-6.
"This match was scheduled to be home, however the weather made it impossible to be on the courts," said Coach Andy Rancloes. "It was our first time outside. It is always scary and intimidating to go from playing three weeks in the gym to playing a match on the courts. We were a little rusty and there were some scoring issues that came up a few times. The girls managed to keep in check mentally. It was a good test for the girls. They had to overcome some questions and an interruption in game play. They did very well today. This was Rylie’s first tennis match of her career. She won 8-2 but she had the longest match of the day. She did very well. We will continue the trend of focusing much of our practices at doubles. This is where we win and lose games. I feel we have three strong double teams and they will be a lot of fun to watch this season."
In their match on Wednesday, Mother Nature almost made it impossible to get the Mountaineers' first home game in. After two hours of working on the courts, play began against a good, young Littleton squad. Berlin prevailed in singles action: Audrey Coulombe won 8-3 over Susan Aubin; Arsenault defeated Alfy Perez 8-4; Theriault fell 8-6 to Laney Hadlock; Binette fought past Darcy Horne 9-8 (7-4 in the tiebreak); Haley Coulombe fell 8-2 to Lexi Walker; and Julie Downs won 1-0 forfeit over Gabbie Leavitt.
"Littleton has a strong young team," said Rancloes. "It was a good early test for the our girls. Audrey and Myra quickly took command and played very well. It is only the second match of the season and I saw huge advancements in their play. Rylie had the match of the evening. After trailing the entire match she took the lead 8-7. She lost the next game and experienced her first tiebreaker. She did very well in the tiebreaker winning 7-5. This was a huge game..at this point we were up 3-2. Her win put us up 4-2."
The Berlin girls kicked into high gear during doubles competition. Mounties A. Coulombe/Arsenault were 8-3 winners over Hadlock/Walker; Theriault/Downs rolled past Aubin/Marinette Rodregiez 8-1; and Binette/ H.Coulombe fought past Perez/Avery Sorrell 8-6.
"The last match of the evening was Rylie and Haley and they were not only battling Littleton but the dark," said Rancloes. "The match ended at 8 p.m. with both teams hardly being able to see the ball. I’m super excited about the improvements in only a few days. We still have a lot to work on. We struggled with our serves and left some points out there. Now we have a couple of matches under our belts we can start making some adjustments and continue to improve.”