Last season, Rachel Thomas and Allison Mattucci teamed up to win the District 4 Class AA doubles championship. Those five matches were the first time the two played with each other.
The duo teamed up again and has built on last year’s experience and is better for it.
Thomas and Mattucci defeated South Williamsport’s Megan Rovenolt and Lily Summerson, 6-0, 6-2, in the District 4 Class AA doubles championship Monday at the West Branch Tennis Club.
Each duo heads to states?Nov. 4-5 at the Hershey Racquet Club.
“Allie and I got to know how each other play and I think that we played better (this year),” said Thomas, who is Hughesville’s No. 1 singles player.
“They won this last year, they’ve been here, done that and just their experience and what they bring to the team and for both of them to play together again after last year,” said Hughesville coach Craig Weaver. “The experience showed on the court.”
After defeating Selinsgrove’s Olivia Fravel and Savanna Foor, 6-2, 6-3, in the semifinals, Mattucci and Thomas got out to a quick 6-0 start in the finals match, not even allowing South to get up in a game. But Rovenolt and Summerson played much tougher in the second set, as they held a 40-15 advantage in the second game and won the third and fifth games. The sixth game even went to deuce twice before Hughesville prevailed.
“They took to heart some of the coaching we gave them,” said South coach Theresa Summerson of her team’s improvement in the second set. “I think they got acclimated to the pace of the ball because the match before wasn’t as fast paced but they adjusted well.”
Thomas and Mattucci looked to be playing with each other for years, even though it’s been less than 15 games. The duo, who combined to go 44-6 this season, including doubles, had no weaknesses no matter who was serving or at the net. When Thomas was great at serving, Mattucci was great at the net and vice versa.
In the seventh game of the second set, Mattucci had three straight aces and no matter where South placed the ball, Mattucci and Thomas got their racket on it with accuracy and power. The two communicated well and are even playing better now than when they won district doubles last year and went to the semifinals of the state tournament, placing fourth.
“They run around together, they’re on the courts together at practice and when we’re not at practice and just their chemistry,” said Weaver. “Like I said, their experience of playing together really makes things flow out there. They know what each is going to do, when they’re going to do it. That’s just experience.”
“I think we really bonded last year as a team,” Mattucci said. “We got to know how each other played. It was an advantage for us, definitely.”
Though Mattucci and Thomas played with each other before, Rovenolt and Lily Summerson never have until about a week ago. Rovenolt, a senior who at No. 2 singles went a combined 25-2 on the season, has been behind two-time district singles champion Anya Plotnikova for the last three years, finally gets a chance to compete at states.
“They only practiced doubles for the last week or two so I was very proud of them, especially proud of Megan Rovenolt as a senior,” said Theresa Summerson. “She was always on a team where she was under Anya so she didn’t always get a chance to shine but on any other team she would’ve been the No. 1 player and she worked harder than any other girl I have coached. She put in a lot of time and I just was hoping Lily was able to keep it afloat so that Megan could make those winning shots.”
Megan Rovenolt/Lily Summerson (SW) def. Carissa Wagner/Taylor Wolfe (Milton) 7-6, 6-1; Rachel Thomas/Allison Mattucci (Hughesville) def. Olivia Fravel/Savanna Foor (Selinsgrove) 6-2, 6-3
Rachel Thomas/Allison Mattucci (Hughesville) def. Megan Rovenolt/Lily Summerson (SW) 6-0, 6-2