PENN YAN — On Tuesday afternoon, the Mynderse girls tennis team found themselves exactly where they have been six times since 2015, not at Penn Yan Academy, but in the team sectional finals.
After falling in 2020 to East Rochester in the Class C1 final, the three-seeded Blue Devils (16-1) faced off against the one-seeded combined squad of Avoca/Hammondsport/Prattsburgh and stormed back with three match victories to win their fifth team sectional championship, all since 2015.
Head coach Scott Redding couldn’t have been prouder of his squad given how close they were last year and with six seniors leading the charge this year.
“They just put in so much,” Redding said of his team’s work ethic. “Off-season, in-season — you have to send them home from practice. They don’t even want to leave practice. That’s just how much they love it, and it shows. They get down, they persevere, they keep fighting back. It definitely wasn’t easy. They definitely did a great job tonight.
All five matches began simultaneously at Penn Yan Academy just after 4:30 p.m. On court one, No. 1 singles player Sydney Partee of Mynderse against A/H/P’s Kendra Pinckney. Partee found herself ahead 40-love in the first game of the match but Pinckney stormed back to take the first game. Partee’s ability to string together consistent shots was outmatched by Pinckey’s same ability but with slightly more power.
Pinckney took the match in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1. With that, Mynderse fell behind 1-0.
On court three, the story was much of the same. Power shots exchanged between A/H/P’s Camryn Moore and Mynderse’s Holly Marriott typically went in favor of Moore, whose serve helped her to a straight set victory, 6-4, 6-2.
With two matches finished, Mynderse found themselves down 2-0. Amy Mahoney at No. 2 singles and the doubles teams of Flora Lin and Eleka Goncz and Leah Redding and Bridget Aceto would have to win out in order to secure the team sectional title.
That’s exactly what transpired.
“We talk a lot about mindset,” Redding said. “They’ve got great strokes and they’re great tennis players but it comes down to mindset.”
Lin and Goncz won their match in straight sets thanks to a helping of power from Lin and consistent baseline shots from Goncz, who rarely hit a shot out of bounds.
On court two, Mahoney found herself up 5-4 in the first set of a tight match. Mahoney held serve and won the first set. In the second tied at 2-2, Mahoney broke her opponent, Susie Moore, and took a 3-2 lead on serve. Mahoney held, going up 4-2 in the second set before a string of double faults by Moore gave Mahoney the ball back up 5-2.
Down love-30, Mahoney rallied and scored four straight points to take the second set 6-2 and win the match.
All of the sudden, the Class B2 sectional team final was tied 2-2 and came down to No. 2 doubles match on court five.
Redding and Aceto took the first set but fell in the second set. But by the time Mahoney’s win tied the championship at 2-2, Redding and Aceto broke out for to a 4-0 lead in the final set.
Redding and Aceto finished the job, closing A/H/P out 6-1 in the final set to give Mynderse the victory.
“Second doubles, they’ve been playing together all year, they’ve only lost twice all year,” Redding said. “To put that together, it was really clutch on their part.”
Not only do the Blue Devils have to compete in the individual sectional tournament, they must also prepare for something that hasn’t happened in two years: play a play-in match against Class B1 champions Harley/Allendale-Columbia, a team they beat 3-2 earlier in the season.
“Tomorrow we’re come to practice at 3:30 at we’ll keep marching forward,” Redding said. “We have already played HAC this year, it was a 3-2 win for us but everything’s different now. We’re playing for higher stakes and they’re going to want it just as bad as we’re going to want it. I’m looking forward to it.”