VERONA, NJ - The Verona girls tennis team successfully defended their home court with a 5-0 victory over rival Cedar Grove on Friday afternoon, rebounding from a tough loss in the Essex County Tournament in the process.

 “We played three matches yesterday and it was kind of a rollercoaster…to come back and win 5-0 today was nice,” said Verona Head Coach Jonathan Thai.

The Hillbillies received yet another solid performance from third singles player Ashley Baumgard who won in straight sets 6-1 6-0. Baumgard improved her non-tournament record to 5-3 and has now won three of her last four matches in head to head team match play.

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“I would say for sure my forehand [was working] I’ve been trying to clean that up in the past few weeks, trying to follow through a little bit more with my shots so I would say it’s definitely been a factor in how I’ve played,” said Baumgard.

Baumgard’s play set the tone for the contest as her singles counterparts Megan Forrest and Desiree Meyer each collected wins in identical scores. The play of the singles groupings was directly correlated to their increasingly good competition over the past few weeks.

“I think playing against real good competition the last few weeks and not letting their level drop, they were aggressive with their shots and when they had a chance to close out points they did it,” said Thai.

Cedar Grove worked to battle and make a match of the contest despite failing to win a set. The first doubles pairing of Brianna and Christa Fox put up a solid fight against their Verona counterparts Brooke Anquillare and Kylee Gallagher. Ultimately Gallagher and Anquillare took the match 6-1 and 6-2.

The second doubles match closed out the contest for the two squads with Verona taking the victory. A battle between the two squads anchored by solid net play yielded a Hillbilly victory. Cedar Grove’s Chloe Perry and Lauren Cap forced Verona’s Claire Jackson and Katie Hunt to labor through to get a 6-4 6-1 win.

“A lot of their games went to deuce and went back and forth so I’m happy with that and I’m happy they never gave up,” said Cedar Grove Head Coach Andrea Watson.

For Cedar Grove who remains winless in head to head matches the season has been a lesson in player growth. The group continues with each match to take strides in the right direction towards more success.

“It’s going to take hard work and practice and they need to practice outside at home and if they start doing that I think they’ll be a real force to be reckoned with  next year,” said Watson.

For Verona, the victory improves the squad to 4-8 on the year. Despite a split at the ECT on Thursday the squad is now winners of three of their last five matches.

“We’re just going to have to remember how we won and the weaknesses to how we lost matches, we’re going to have to fight for every point this season,” said Thai.

TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove  is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.

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