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Terriers’ tennis takes fourth straight title

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Someday it may be duplicated, but no one will ever have a better high school tennis career than St. Francis Prep senior Alessandra Pedergnana. For four years, Pedergnana played No. 1 singled for the Terriers. And for four years, the St. Francis Prep girls tennis team never lost.

The culmination of her outstanding high school career came last Wednesday in South Huntington, L.I. when the Terriers defeated arch-rival St. Anthony’s 5-2 to clinch the team’s fourth straight league crown.

Four days later on Staten Island, St. Francis Prep won its fourth consecutive New York State crown, defeating Staten Island champion St. Joseph Hill, 5-0, for the team’s 65th straight victory.

“The first year we won it, it was really special, but four years in a row is the ultimate,” said Pedergnana, who lost just one match in her four years of playing first singles. “You can’t ask for anything more. It’s pretty remarkable. We’re a bit like the Yankees, a dynasty.”

Mother Nature, though, could seemingly care less about Pedergnana’s shining moment last Wednesday. With the temperature dipping to 50 degrees and with a punishing blustery wind blowing across all four courts at St. Anthony’s, the weather was not exactly conducive to tennis.

“Every year we play here it’s windy, but today was the windiest,” Pedergnana said. “It moves the ball around a lot and you have to move you feet a lot quicker. I just tried to get the ball in anywhere, basically.”

But Pedergnana hardly seemed fazed by the harsh conditions, as her quick, low groundstrokes forced St. Anthony’s Ashley Laurie into tough angle shots. Pedergnana won her match easily, 8-0.

As did St. Francis Prep sophomore Ellenora Featherston, who shed a hooded sweatshirt and sweat pants for t-shirt and shorts as her match progressed. She defeated Jackie Curcio, 8-2.

“It was very bad out there. I couldn’t keep my groundstrokes in the court,” Featherston said. “I basically just had to aim for the middle of the court and not go for as many winners because the wind can gust and the ball would go right out.”

St. Francis Prep’s first doubles team of Danijela Vulin and Denisa Hluchova defeated Ashley Johansen and Kathryn Skirbe, 8-3, and the Terriers wrapped up its 63rd straight win moments later when the third doubles team of Gina Kang and Kristina Koncewicz rallied from a 5-1 deficit to defeat Liz Nolan and Liz Valdini, 8-7 (7-4).

“I don’t know if any team has won [65 matches] in a row. It’s very difficult,” said St. Francis Prep head coach John Brennan. “And I don’t know if it will ever be done again. Obviously, we’re going to try for it next year, but for these seniors to never lose a high school match is a remarkable feat.”

For St. Anthony’s (12-2), it was yet another year of finishing second. The Friars had a great run, amassing a 47-6 record in four years. But all six losses during that span have come against St. Francis Prep.

“Our girls played well, but when it came down to the big points they just played them a little better than us,” said St. Anthony’s head coach Rich Roslund. “I’m proud of what the girls did, they executed the game plan well, but talent-wise, St. Francis Prep is a little better.”

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.

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