Blue Devils clinch conference championship

Bunker Hill pushed as hard as they could on the tennis court Wednesday, but Maiden refused to yield.

The Lady Blue Devils (17-2, 13-0) knocked off the Lady Bears (10-3, 14-4) for the second time this season, and in the process, clinched their third-straight conference title.

“It really is quite an accomplishment,” said Maiden coach Jon Huffman. “When I started here a couple of years ago, we had to start from scratch. It was tough. That first year was tough. The last three years, we’ve been very fortunate.”

It was a shaky game early for Maiden. Some of its players fell behind in their singles matches.

The Lady Blue Devils battled back to get singles wins from No. 1 Abbey Black, No. 3 Michelle Lor, No. 4 Laura Melonakos and No. 6 Katie Willis.
Despite being up 4-2 heading into doubles play, Huffman said he was still concerned because of the experience coming from Bunker Hill’s coach.

“Doug (Watters) is a very good doubles player,” Huffman said. “In fact, he and I are partners when we play league tennis. I knew they’d be good at it. When we got four wins in singles, I thought that was a good thing, but you can’t rest against Bunker Hill. They are a good team.”

Bunker Hill took early leads in two-of-three doubles matches, attempting to pull the upset.

Despite that effort, a deciding 10-4 win by the team of Lor and Cenyu Yang clinched the CVAC championship for Maiden.

“The girls played so very hard today and it showed,” Watters said. “We did not win, but we did improve our scores from last time. I am so proud of the whole team. The girls are some of the hardest workers I have ever had a chance to coach.”

Lor, one of three Maiden seniors honored before Wednesday’s match, said this year’s championship is special.

“It makes me feel good to have played this long and for three years, I’ve been a part of a conference championship team,” Lor said. “This is one of the greatest accomplishments during my senior year.”

With a conference title under its belt, Maiden starts to set its sights to postseason play.

Huffman said playing Bunker Hill and Bandys in conference play has prepared his team for the next level.

“I think our conference, overall, has gotten better,” Huffman said. “Bunker Hill is a great team. Bandys is a great team. Those two teams have really pushed us. Our kids had to play hard against them. I think its got us ready for the dual teams.”