After nearly each point of their No. 1 doubles match Sunday afternoon at Olney Manor Recreational Park, Holy Cross senior Shannon Hanley and junior teammate Dori Mesmer would turn to each other, smile and share a high-five, regardless of the result. Even in the competitive setting of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference girls’ tennis championship, it was easy to see just how much fun the pair was having.
Hanley and Mesmer, who have been close friends for many years, defeated Good Counsel’s Melinda Yan and Megan Keller, 8-3, in under a half-hour to provide Holy Cross with what eventually would be the clinching points of the tournament. The Tartans finished with 25 points to capture their first conference title since 2005, while St. John’s, the winner of the previous four WCAC titles, was second with 21 points. Good Counsel claimed third (20 points).
“We’re good friends at school — off the court, too,” Mesmer said of her friendship with Hanley. “We like to joke around and laugh on the court, [which] keeps it light. There’s no pressure.”
Good Counsel held a one-point lead over Holy Cross and had the most representatives entering Sunday’s finals but only picked up points at No. 3 singles, which was won by Falcons sophomore Tessa Batz.
Hanley, the defending No. 1 singles champion, defeated Bishop Ireton freshman Emnet Simunyola, 8-2, to start off the successful day for the Tartans. Simunyola used her flat groundstrokes to keep the match close in the early stages and held serve twice.
But Hanley, who had not dropped a game in two conference tournaments before the match, broke Simunyola in the third game and overpowered her younger opponent with her pinpoint serves and aggressive baseline play. Hanley, a Penn State commit, also won the No. 1 singles title as a freshman.
“I had good footwork, and I was able to move forward when I could,” said Hanley, who missed the first few weeks of the season with a stress fracture. “I worked on lots of high first-serve percentage and keeping the ball deeper so I can be more aggressive.”
Mesmer picked up the second-flight singles title, while St. John’s sophomores Dominique Jackson and Amelia Mitchell won the No. 4 and No. 5 singles titles, respectively. Paul VI freshman Ronalenne Gruseck was the winner at No. 6 singles.
Good Counsel had a chance to win the team title with two doubles matches remaining, but St. John’s Jackson and Grace Segreti won at No. 2 doubles to help Holy Cross clinch the championship and vault the Cadets to second place. Paul VI’s Erica Markel and Chloe Martin won the third-flight doubles to conclude the tournament.
“It’s just so much fun,” Hanley said of playing for the Tartans. “I’m really happy that the team was able to pull through.”