Mount Anthony Union High School senior Keara Sternberg goes to return a shot in her match against Rutland on Tuesday.
Mount Anthony Union High School senior Keara Sternberg goes to return a shot in her match against Rutland on Tuesday. (Geoff Smith / Bennington Banner)

BENNINGTON -- It was always going to be a tall order for the Mount Anthony Union High School girls tennis team as they hosted the No. 4 ranked team in Division I in Rutland, and the Raiders emphasized the gulf between the two sides by topping the Patriots 6-1 at the Rec Center in Bennington on Tuesday.

"[Rutland] is a very good team," said MAU co-coach Steve Coggeshall. "All we can do is measure ourselves by what progress we can make against them. [Today] was something for us to learn from and expand our playing from and getting better from."

The Patriots picked up their lone win at fifth singles where Grace Page repeated her win over Sarah Nadler from earlier this season in a 6-2, 6-0 decision.

"Last time it was 6-4, 6-4. When we were warming up, I thought it was going to be a closer one," Page said. "I think I just was focusing more on hitting it to the corners and placing it better than I did last time."

But beyond Page's two set wins, the Patriots did not pick up another.

At first singles, Jessie Kuzmicki fell to Caitlin Hanley 6-0, 6-1, while senior Keara Sternberg, playing in her final home match, fell 6-0, 6-1 as well.

"It was really rewarding [playing today], I just wanted to have fun," Sternberg said of her final match at the Rec Center. "It's kind of bittersweet thinking that it's my last athletic season in high school. It was a good experience and you always learn from it."

At third singles, Erica Frost fell, 6-3, 6-3, to Melanie Hubbard in the closest of the five MAU losses.

Frost found herself down 4-1 in the first set and got the set score to 5-3 before Hubbard could close it out, and then in the second set Frost found herself up 3-1 before Hubbard tied things up at 3-3 then took the final three games.

"Erica played very well for us today," Coggeshall said. "Unfortunately, she got down early. The last time they played, the girl really took Erica apart. This time, it was nice to see the progress."

At fourth singles, Margaret Curtin fell 6-4, 6-2 to Megan Nader. In the teams' previous meeting, Curtin had topped Nader.

"The number four singles match was a good win for [Nader]," said Rutland coach Mary Haskell. "Last time they played she had lost. She was patient [today] and found a way to win it."

In doubles action, Julia Parks and Taylor Tobin fell at number one doubles 6-1, 6-0 to Kelsey Bullock and Amber Thomas, while at number two doubles, Lauren Volpi and Samantha Greene fell to Christina Lovett and Dana Stewart 6-2, 6-3.

"[Rutland was] a good team to play against, I think it shows our level a little better," said MAU co-coach Tanya Case. "You could see the mistakes because they were clear because they were playing a little better. When we played yesterday [a win over Brattleboro], we were winning so it is harder to focus on mistakes. Here, you could see where the weak links are in our game and what they have to work on, which I think is big for us to grow."

MAU is now 5-5 on the year with three matches remaining. The Patriots play next on Thursday at Burr and Burton Academy. Rutland moves to 10-2 on the year.