Photos and story by JOHN ANDERSON
HONEOYE FALLS — As the 2023 tennis season went on, it was clear Wellsville and Avoca-Prattsburgh would face off for the Section V B2 championship.
Not only does A-P have a solid team, they have veteran coach Bill Stollery who worked on the perfect lineup in an attempt to knock off the undefeated, defending Section V champions from Wellsville.
And his plan was working to perfection.
At one point, it appeared the match would be deadlocked at 2-2 and come down to the winner of the first doubles to determine the Section V title. The crowd anticipated this as well, making their way down to Court 1 at the outstanding 8-court HFL facility.
There was a sigh of relief and then a loud cheer as Hanna Miles and Caitlin BIttel won 6-1, 6-0 for the decisive third win as the title was secured.
Wellsville (16-0) will now take on HAC on Tuesday at the Mendon Racquet Club in the team state qualifiers.
Meanwhile at second doubles, McKenna Wonderling and Kelsey Seely came from behind in the first set and won 6-4, 6-4.
When it was all finished, Wellsville had a 4-1 victory over Avoca-Prattsburgh and another title.
“We needed everyone tonight across the board, it didn’t matter if you were first singles or second doubles, they got the point and they got it done,” said Wellsville coach Billy Stives. “I know we won last year, but our bracket was tougher and we knew we had to work harder and play better to win again.”
Stives also acknowledged the team had to be ready to face different opponents as Stollery takes advantage of an athletic Avoca-Prattsburgh roster to move players around and give his team a chance to win.
“We played them two times this year and they had altered lineups those times and we came out ahead,” Stives said. “So I told them, no matter who they throw out there, you play your best and we are going to come out ahead.
“Avoca-Prattsburgh (12-4) is a very tough team and they always are when they play us, it’s always very close and I’m happy to come out on top, “Stives added.
At first singles, the titans of Class B2 clashed again with Wellsville’s Samantha Bidzerkowny and Avoca-Prattsburgh’s Genevieve Dabby.
The two played tough matches during the year, and in the Section V individual championships, Bidzerkowny defeated Dabby after a first-set tiebreaker, 7-6 (6), 6-2.
On Tuesday in the team championship, Dabby picked up a 6-1, 6-3 win.
“I thought Dabby played very well and gave a great effort,” Stives said. “They alternated all year. Sam is an amazing player.
“Sam won her title and one good thing, we are all going on to state qualifiers, which is more icing on the cake,” Stives added. Stives coached the current team in modified and still calls them the modified squad.
“I told them in modified, ‘You are not great now, but you will be if you keep playing, you will win a championship in varsity.’ And they did. They put in the time in the off-season and it paid off. I couldn’t be happier and I couldn’t be prouder.”
As for that first doubles win, Stives said, “They (Miles and Bittle) played confident the whole game. I told them to be aggressive, deep approaches and they hit great overheads and they were just in the right positions each time. It was a super match with (Camryn Moore and Pauline Charron).”
Stives said he was impressed with the comeback win by McKenna Wonderling and Kelsey Seely at second doubles as well, and the dominating performance by Meagan Riley at second singles, as Riley won 6-0, 6-0.
“Second doubles got down, they played tough and it was close in that second set. But when crunch time around, they were able to get it done,” Stives said. “I have to say, Meagan has been playing phenomenal for the last half of the season. She has picked up her serve, her ground strokes have improved and she played just amazing tonight.”
Just as dominating for Wellsville was Sarah Mattison at third singles with a 6-0, 6-0 victory.
Genevieve Dabby (A-P) d. Samantha Bidzerkowny (WLSV) 6-1, 6-3
Meagan Riley (WLSV) d. Colleen Hammond (A-P) 6-0, 6-0
Sarah Mattison (WLSV) d. Mariah Bryan (A-P) 6-0, 6-0
Hanna Miles/Caitlin BIttel (WLSV) d. Camryn Moore/Pauline Charron (A-P) 6-1, 6-0
McKenna Wonderling/Kelsey Seely (WLSV) d. Ginny Savage/Gracie Cole (A-P) 6-4, 6-4