MIDDLETOWN – She may have not taken the first singles title, but Archmere’s Grace Dignazio wrapped up a stellar high school tennis career with an impressive runner-up performance on May 25 at St. Andrew’s School in Middletown. Dignazio, the top seed, lost a three-setter to second-seeded Victoria Anyanwu, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2.
Dignazio, a senior, played as an eighth-grader and freshman for Tower Hill School, then moved to the Auks for the past three seasons. She won championships in third singles in 2014 and second singles in 2015, lost in the final as a sophomore at first singles in 2016, and was eliminated in the semifinal round last season.
Anyanwu reached the semifinal round at first singles last season and served notice that she will be a force over the next three seasons. She was one of the keys to the Senators’ second-place finish to neighboring Caesar Rodney.
Playing under a relentless sun, the pair started with a back-and-forth first set. Dignazio broke Anyanwu’s serve to tie it a 2-2, but the Senator broke her right back, taking a one-game lead. Anyanwu was hitting well and took the next three games as well to win the first set.
The second set was a marathon under a relentless sun. After four games, the pair was tied. Dignazio took her first lead at 3-2 following a few unforced errors, but Anyanwu leveled it with an ace. They were tied again at three, four and five games apiece.
Dignazio served to open the next game, and two points later she drilled a winner to go ahead, 30-0. She held off Anyanwu’s comeback attempts and took the game. Anyanwu opened the next game with a winner down the line, but a pair of double faults put Dignazio ahead by a point. Again, Dignazio rebuffed her opponent, and she tied the match at a set each on an unforced error.
The third set consisted of eight games, six of which resulted in broken serves. Dignazio opened with the serve, but Anyanwu ran the table and captured the early lead. Dignazio broke her right back, but her opponent followed by winning the next three games, including overcoming two advantages for Dignazio to make it 4-1.
With the score 5-2, Anyanwu unleashed a crosscourt winner and an unreachable backhand, setting up match point.