Springfield – Unable to compete in last year’s Central League doubles tennis tournament, Harriton sophomores Sophia Sassoli and Connie Richards made the most of this year’s chance, losing just seven games in three matches en route to capturing the 2016 Central League doubles title.
The Harriton duo defeated Conestoga’s Ashley Griffith and Maddie Wood 6-2, 6-1 in Saturday afternoon’s final at the Healthplex.
“It was a big deal (winning the Central League doubles title),” said Richards, who plays No. 2 singles for the Rams. “Sophia and I love playing together and it was sad we were not able to play in the Central League singles tournament, so we were happy to play in the (Central League) doubles tournament and it felt great to win and get a chance to play in the upcoming district doubles tournament.”
Sassoli, who plays No. 1 singles, added, “It was a lot of fun to play together. We are good friends so it was fun and it made it more special to have our teammates and family cheering us on. It was a great atmosphere. We practiced together and it looks like it paid off. Hopefully we can make a long run in districts.”
Sassoli and Richards punched their ticket to the final defeating Priva Aravindhan and Olivia Dodge in straight sets before having to wait while Griffith and Wood battled Radnor’s Grace Hederick and Jessica Lin for almost three hours before prevailing 5-7, 6-3, 7-5.
A key ingredient in their success over the two-day tournament that began Friday was communication to ensure coverage of the court combined with the ability to come up with quick net play, sharp angled shots and powerful serves at key points in the match.
“Sophia and Connie were unable to play in the Central League Singles Championships, so it’s especially rewarding to see them emerge as Central League Doubles champions,” said coach David Broida. “This win propels them to the District tournament and hopefully to the state tournament in Hershey.”
With the top six finishers advancing to the upcoming PIAA District One Class AAA doubles tournament, Sassoli and Richards will be joined by their teammates Sonia Groeneveld and Sofia Kandoussi, who finished sixth and clinched their spot defeating Strath Haven’s Megan Kidd and Madison Snyder in the first match of the consolation draw.
Also clinching berths in the district tournament were Wood and Griffith from Conestoga and their teammates Aravindhan and Dodge along with Grace Hederick and Jessica Lin from Radnor and Simon Burde and Neve Brennan from Lower Merion.