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Podolsky wins singles title, helps Archmere girls to second in tennis tournament

By

Dialog reporter

 

MIDDLETOWN – Abby Podolsky had been here before – just a year ago, in fact – as Delaware high school tennis’ top seed in second singles, facing a formidable opponent from perennial power Caesar Rodney. She came in a very respectable second place in 2016, but on May 26 at St. Andrew’s School, Podolsky made sure there would be no repeat.

With CR’s Halle Parker on a different court playing for the first singles championship, Podolsky matched up with the Riders’ Natasha Sijan, the two-time defending champion at third singles. Podolsky split the first two sets with Sijan, built up a big lead in the third and deciding set before battling to a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 win. The triumph capped an undefeated season for the Archmere senior. For Sijan, the two-time defending state champion at third singles, it was her first and only loss of the season.

Archmere's Abby Podolsky returns a shot against Caesar Rodney's Natasha Sijan in the state tournament on May 26. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

Archmere’s Abby Podolsky returns a shot against Caesar Rodney’s Natasha Sijan in the state tournament on May 26. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

It was the second state championship for Podolsky, who was half of the first doubles title-winners as an eighth-grader at Tower Hill in 2013. The win Friday was “amazing. I won in the state championships my eighth-grade year for Tower Hill, and now I’m winning my senior year, which is really cool.”

Podolsky had a 5-1 lead in the third set when Sijan made a move. Sijan broke Podolsky’s serve to climb within three games, then held her own when Podolsky sent a volley wide. The pair was tied 15-15 at 5-3, but Sijan took three straight points to break Podolsky again and make it 5-4.

“She started coming back a little more, and I was a being a little safer with the ball because I was nervous, honestly,” she said. “It’s hard to close. It’s probably hardest to close matches.”

After a quick word from her coach, Podolsky settled down in the deciding game. Two errors and a winning shot by Podolsky put her ahead love-40, and after a Sijan smash made it 15-40, Podolsky broke her opponent’s serve and clinched the title when a Sijan return went into the net. The Auk walked off the court with a grin a mile wide and into hugs from her coach, her teammates, then her father.

“I wanted to come right to them,” she said.

Alisa Yankovenko reaches to get to a shot in her third singles final on May 26. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

Alisa Yankovenko reaches to get to a shot in her third singles final on May 26. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

On the adjoining court, Archmere junior Alisa Yakovenko took on CR’s Nora Frederick for the third singles title. Yakovenko, the top seed, battled No. 3 Frederick, but the Rider took a 7-5, 6-3 decision. Archmere’s other finalist was in second doubles, where third seed Idana Tang and Katie Griffith met top-seeded Piper Casey and Chloe Mangubat of Caesar Rodney. The Riders’ pair nabbed the crown with a 6-3, 6-4 decision.

The Auks, who had a 14-0 regular season, finished second in the team standings to Caesar Rodney. Podolsky and Tang are the only seniors on the roster. The season was memorable, Podolsky said.

“We went undefeated in the regular season. We went through and wanted to win states. We all played really hard today and this year, and I’m proud.”

Katie Griffith (left) and Idana Tang of Archmere track a shot during their second doubles match. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

Katie Griffith (left) and Idana Tang of Archmere track a shot during their second doubles match. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

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