PAWTUCKET – La Salle Academy left little doubt who the best Division I girls’ tennis team is in 2012.
In a championship that was swift in terms of time required – 80 minutes according to Cumberland High head coach and tournament director John Jasionowski – 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 girls’ 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.
“I’m very proud of the girls. We knew going in that we would be the underdog, but we knew we deserved to be here,” stated Pitrone-Marsh as darkness quickly engulfed the Slater Park courts. “I 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.”
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 Rams’ Emily Carranza and Caroline Dunn rolled to a 6-1, 6-3 win over the Mounties’ Kylie Finnerty and Katelyn Gagnon.
La Salle’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 Mounties’ march to the finals. Last Thursday, Foley went up against East Greenwich’s Aleksandra Drljaca, who two days later was crowned the state singles’ champ.
“They’re different (in terms of style), but they’re both amazing players,” said Foley when asked to compare and contrast Pitocco and Drljaca. “Amanda is a great player to play against; she’s so gracious and kind.”
No one player enjoyed a sweeter, more satisfying ride en route to becoming her team’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.
“I had her as a ninth grader on JV and she’s been an integral part of the program,” noted Pitrone-Marsh. “She’s made me very proud.”
As Foley and Pitocco exited the court, cheers rang out after Natalie Pitocco and Annie Venditti’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 MSC’s 4-3 semifinal victory against East Greenwich.
The clincher came at No. 3 doubles with La Salle’s Caitlin Wray and Briana Hanson concluding matters with a 6-4, 6-2 verdict against Kate Foley and Meaghan Dubois of Mount.
“Overall, I think they have a more powerful groundstroke then we do, which was definitely a factor,’ said Pitrone-Marsh when asked to pinpoint difference between the final two teams left standing in Div. I. “La Salle at the net, they also had a better net game than us.”
The Mounties, which reached the finals as a No. 3 seed, wrap up the season with 11 total victories against four defeats.
“We worked so hard this year and we’re so happy we got this far,” exclaimed Liz Foley. “I’m so proud of everybody and I know everybody is proud of everybody else. We played our hearts out today.”