Girls Tennis: Short-handed Monarchs top Ward Melville in playoff match

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | McGann-Mercy senior Cassidy Lessard competes at the division championship last week. The Monarchs won Tuesday against Ward Melville in the team playoffs to advance to the quarterfinals.


As the match unfolded Tuesday between eighth-seeded McGann-Mercy and No. 9 Ward Melville, it became clear only one path to victory existed for the Monarchs: Sweep the three doubles matches and find a way to win one singles match.

Sounds simple enough.

Only the Monarchs were without their No. 2 singles player, senior Marianne Naleski, who was out sick. The remaining singles players had to bump up one spot.

And then there was still the problem at first doubles, where the Monarchs were going up against an all-county duo from Ward Melville.

“I knew it was going to be a close match,” said Mercy coach Mike Clauberg. “I knew it was going to be tough.”

When Mercy’s first doubles duo of sophomores Delaney Macchirole and Micaela Zebroski pulled out a victory, it came down to fourth singles. And junior Jackie Zaweski delivered a clutch victory to seal a 4-3 victory for Mercy, sending the Monarchs into the quarterfinals Wednesday against No. 1 Half Hollow Hills East.

It’s the third straight year Mercy has advanced into the quarterfinals.

“These girls really came up big today,” Clauberg said.

Zaweski has rotated between doubles and singles this season, so moving into the fourth singles spot wasn’t something new. She won the first set against Caitlin Falvey 6-1, but things weren’t so smooth in the second set. She fell behind 5-4 and was on the brink of going to a decisive third set. She fought back to tie the match at 6 and send it to a tiebreaker.

In the tiebreaker she won 7-2, giving her a 7-6 victory to clinch the victory for Mercy.

“She played a great tiebreaker,” Clauberg said. “This girl was good, but Jackie played everything down. When the girl came to the net she lobbed it over her head. She really had a great game.”

At first doubles Macchirole and Zebroski won 6-1, 6-4 for the all-important victory.

The second and third doubles teams took care of business with two-set wins.

Junior Shannon Merker and freshman Jamie Lessard won 6-0, 6-3 at second doubles. Freshmen Kathleen Brownfiel and Margaret Naleski won 6-0, 6-0 at third doubles.

Mercy’s first singles player, senior Cassidy Lessard, had to go up against Sabrina Ferretti, who was third in the Division III singles tournament.

“It was a real close match,” Clauberg said. “Cassidy was winning throughout the first set. She was up 5-4 and couldn’t put it down.”

Ferretti came back to won the first set 7-5. In the second set she lost 6-4.

The loss at first singles added the pressure on the doubles teams, which had no room for error.

Having the match on their home courts proved to be beneficial for the Monarchs.

“Being at home is definitely an advantage,” Clauberg said.

The Monarchs will have their hands full Wednesday against the top team in the county in Hills East. The Thunderbirds have one of the top players in the county in Vanessa Scott and a deep lineup after her with skilled players at every position.

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