Rider girls repeat as state tennis champions

MIDDLETOWN — Not only did the Caesar Rodney High girls’ tennis team have three champions on Friday, the Riders made sure to bring home some extra hardware.

Caesar Rodney won the DIAA girls’ team tennis championship for the second year in a row after the final day of play on Friday, hosted by St. Andrew’s School. It is the third title in the last four years for the Riders.

“It means a lot to us,” said No. 3 singles player Nora Frederick, who won an individual championship too. “We all work hard during the offseason and the regular season. We know we had a great opportunity and we didn’t want to let it go.”

Caesar Rodney was represented in the championship match of each of the five brackets. Along with Frederick’s victory at No. 3 singles, the Riders swept the doubles competition with wins by No. 1 doubles team Katherine Tamesis and Micaela Thorogood, while Piper Casey and Chloe Manguba were winners in No. 2 doubles competition.

“They’ve been strong all year,” said CR coach Zach Taylor of his doubles teams. “They’re really aggressive at the net. The biggest thing for both teams, is their chemistry. They each work really well together as a team. They complement each other really well.”

Members of the Caesar Rodney girls tennis team celebrate with the trophy after winning their second straight state championship on Friday at St. Andrew’s. (Delaware State News/Tim Mastro)

In the boys’ brackets, Tower Hill won the team championship with a perfect score of 30.

The Hillers won every division and were followed in the team standings by Caesar Rodney. CR finished second with 16 overall points and made a pair of finals.

Caesar Rodney’s top two players, sophomore Rishi Gundakaram and junior David Haynes were runner ups at No. 1 singles and No. 2 singles respectively.

“We’ll take second-place because Tower Hill just had a phenomenal team this year so finishing second is good for us,” said CR boys’ coach Jim Harvey. “Our kids played really well and we made Tower Hill hit a lot of tennis balls, there were no quick games.”

Frederick’s match at girls’ No. 3 singles was the longest of the day, taking nearly two hours despite only needing two sets.

The first set was back-and-forth until Frederick was able to edged out a 7-5 result. It allowed her to settle down and close out the second set with a 6-3 victory.

“It was a really intense match,” Frederick said. “The first set I wasn’t playing as well as I could have, I was playing too safe. I knew after I won the first set, I had to go for my shots because I did not want to split sets.”

“Nora did a great job,” Taylor said. “She’s been steadily progressing as the year has gone on. I’m glad that all her work and effort got rewarded because she deserves it.”

The Riders girls were also led by No. 1 singles player Halle Parker, who finished second in her bracket. Natasha Sijan forced a third set in her championship match at No. 2 singles before settling for second-place to help CR earn the team title.

Taylor said the back-to-back titles have been building for quite a while as most of these players are following in the footsteps of their older brothers and sisters who have won championships at Caesar Rodney.

“A lot of them have had siblings who played here so they followed them from a really young age,” Taylor said. “I’ve known some of these girls since they were in fifth or sixth grade so to see them now winning matches in high school is pretty rewarding.”

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