BEDFORD – The Bedford High School girls tennis team got some mystery in its Division II quarterfinal match on Wednesday.
There will be less unknown waiting for the Bulldogs when they play in the semifinals Friday.
No. 3 Bedford rolled in to the semifinals with a 9-0 win over No. 6 Coe-Brown Academy, a team the Bulldogs didn’t face during the regular season. Now, the Bulldogs will travel to Dover to face No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas, a team that beat Bedford during the regular season.
“We hadn’t played Coe-Brown in the regular season, so I wasn’t sure what to expect,” Bedford coach Kristen Perez said. “I thought the girls came out and played really strong and had a lot of good fights.”
A lot of those fights turned lopsided in Bedford’s favor late, including Stephanie Johnson’s 8-1 win over Shannen Ketenci in the No. 1 singles match. Johnson and Ketenci also played in the closest match of the day, as the Bedford player joined Jessica Thompson to win the No. 1 doubles match 9-7 over Ketenci and Nikole D’Alessandro.
Ellen Wheeler won the No. 2 match for Bedford, beating Brooke Smith, 8-2, while Katherine Downer took the No. 3 match, 8-3, over D’Alessandro. Wheeler and Downer combined for an 8-2 win over Stephanie Zwick and Emily Blad in the No. 2 doubles match.
Thompson took the win at No. 4, beating Zwick, 8-3, while Anna Corrao knocked off Katherine Forsythe, 8-4, at No. 5 and Nikita Yerram defeated Blad, 8-3, at No. 6.
Corrao and Julie Aichinger beat Forsythe and Sophie Wensberg 8-0 in the No. 3 doubles match.
For Coe-Brown, it was the start of what coach Mark Stuthers hopes can be a strong program in Division II.
“It’s a tough division, especially the top five teams,” he said. “They’re for real. That’s where I hope for us to be in a few years. I think that Bedford showed, and what a lot of the elite teams show, is that they cut down on the unforced errors. They keep the ball in play and that’s what I think we were lacking.”
The Bulldogs, the defending division champion, lost to St. Thomas 6-3 on May 7, but they feel good going into the rematch because a lot of the matches were close.
“It’s going to be really tough, but I think we can pull it out because there were some matches that were close and could have gone either way,” Johnson said. “I think it’s doable, we’re just going to have to work really hard.”
Perez believes the loss to the Saints might actually help Bedford.
“I think we’ll do OK,” she said. “I think they really want this. It’s nice to have already played them, and to have lost to them, because we want redemption. I think that lights the fire a little more, to want to win.”
St. Thomas knocked off No. 7 Trinity, 8-0, in the quarterfinals. On the other side of the bracket, No. 1 Hanover defeated No. 8 Hollis Brookline, 9-0, and No. 5 Portsmouth won 5-4 over No. 4 Bishop Brady. Hanover and Portsmouth will also play in the semifinals on Friday.
The winners will meet in the final on May 30 at 4 p.m. at The Derryfield School.