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The Mary Louis Academy girls tennis wins first state championship

Photo courtesy of Kelly Kelley

Taking down 16-time New York State CHSAA champs St. Francis Prep in the semifinals of the tournament wasn’t enough for The Mary Louis Academy girls tennis.

After defeating their Queens rivals, the Brooklyn-Queens champions swept St. Joseph Hill Academy in Staten Island, 5-0, to win the school’s first state crown on Thursday. For many teammates beating Prep was sweet, but being the state champions was the cherry on top.

“Once we beat [Prep] it was very exciting,” said head coach Kelly Kelley. “The girls were jumping up and down. But Wednesday they got back down to business, because we could’ve been known as the state champions or the team that beat Prep.”

Kelley attributed the win to a number of factors. First, star player Yuka Lin was a lock to win the first singles match.

Lin, a junior, defeated Anne Marie Cortes quickly, 6-1, 6-0.

Then, she said junior Victoria Zezula, who took second singles this year after an upperclassman departed from the school, stepped up in a big way.

Zezula has been fantastic all season long and routed Francesca Reres, 6-0, 6-0 in the championship match.

“She really rose to the occasion,” Kelley said. “Victoria filled a big hole.”

And finally she said the team stepped up play this year thanks in big part to pro teacher Rod Raphael – whose daughter Abigail plays for the team – joining the team as an assistant coach.

“It gave us [another] level of practice and preparation,” Kelley said.

But the other team members of the squad stepped up to help deliver the victory as well.
In the final singles match Joanna Latek of Mary Louis beat Luisanna Guerrero, 6-1, 4-6, 10-6.

And in doubles, Abigail Raphael and Julia Scapp defeated Olivia Morri and Margeaux LaForte, 6-0, 6-0, and Michailah Marshall and Taylor Duval topped Sabrina Ricciardi and Kristen Buttermark, 6-1, 6-4.

Kelley said the team was anxious before the game, but from the warm-up knew the girls were going to play great.

“I tend to be cautiously optimistic. I thought we had a chance, but like in any sport you still have to play the game,” Kelley said. “But once the girls started warming up, I was getting a good feeling.”

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