PAWTUCKET â€“ La Salle Academy left little doubt who the best Division I girlsâ€™ tennis team is in 2012.
In a championship that was swift in terms of time required â€“ 80 minutes according to Cumberland High head coach and tournament director John Jasionowski â€“ top-seeded La Salle capped off an undefeated season Sunday with a 4-0 triumph against a Mount St. Charles outfit that was plenty upbeat after receiving the runner-up trophy and accompanying medals.
As the La Salle girls posed for a traditional team shot, the Mounties chose a different tactic. Their group picture consisted of the young ladies jumping on the count of three, with former head girlsâ€™ tennis coach and current athletic director Richard Lawrence providing the narration. The entire scene featured plenty of laughter and smiles, all of which was captured by a supportive group of parents that current head coach Marissa Pitrone-Marsh made sure to thank during her post-match remarks.
The upbeat nature remained on full display while Pitrone-Marsh met the media, her players exchanging farewell hugs that were not accompanied by a single tear.
â€śIâ€™m very proud of the girls. We knew going in that we would be the underdog, but we knew we deserved to be here,â€ť stated Pitrone-Marsh as darkness quickly engulfed the Slater Park courts. â€śI told the girls to give it all they got. They did, so we still walk off the court a winner. They improved so much throughout the season.â€ť
The 14-0 Rams set the tone early, capturing six of the seven first sets. The first point of the day came at No. 2 doubles, where the Ramsâ€™ Emily Carranza and Caroline Dunn rolled to a 6-1, 6-3 win over the Mountiesâ€™ Kylie Finnerty and Katelyn Gagnon.
La Salleâ€™s next two team points came directly on the heels of each other, as Amanda Pitocco registered a straight-set victory against MSC senior Liz Foley at No. 1 singles. An all-state selection, Foley ran into some pretty stiff competition during the Mountiesâ€™ march to the finals. Last Thursday, Foley went up against East Greenwichâ€™s Aleksandra Drljaca, who two days later was crowned the state singlesâ€™ champ.
â€śTheyâ€™re different (in terms of style), but theyâ€™re both amazing players,â€ť said Foley when asked to compare and contrast Pitocco and Drljaca. â€śAmanda is a great player to play against; sheâ€™s so gracious and kind.â€ť
No one player enjoyed a sweeter, more satisfying ride en route to becoming her teamâ€™s No. 1 option than Foley. As an underclassman, she watched and learned from the likes of Taylor McEldowney, Meryl Lawrence and Meghan Lydon. By the time she became a senior, Foley felt that she was more than ready to set an example.
â€śI had her as a ninth grader on JV and sheâ€™s been an integral part of the program,â€ť noted Pitrone-Marsh. â€śSheâ€™s made me very proud.â€ť
As Foley and Pitocco exited the court, cheers rang out after Natalie Pitocco and Annie Vendittiâ€™s 7-5, 6-2 triumph at No. 1 doubles became official. The La Salle duo got the better of Emily Cardosa and Julia Martin, an all-state pairing that delivered the clinching point during MSCâ€™s 4-3 semifinal victory against East Greenwich.
The clincher came at No. 3 doubles with La Salleâ€™s Caitlin Wray and Briana Hanson concluding matters with a 6-4, 6-2 verdict against Kate Foley and Meaghan Dubois of Mount.
â€śOverall, I think they have a more powerful groundstroke then we do, which was definitely a factor,â€™ said Pitrone-Marsh when asked to pinpoint difference between the final two teams left standing in Div. I. â€śLa Salle at the net, they also had a better net game than us.â€ť
The Mounties, which reached the finals as a No. 3 seed, wrap up the season with 11 total victories against four defeats.
â€śWe worked so hard this year and weâ€™re so happy we got this far,â€ť exclaimed Liz Foley. â€śIâ€™m so proud of everybody and I know everybody is proud of everybody else. We played our hearts out today.â€ť