Don’t try to tell the Lawrence Park Panthers about gaining revenge on the Leaside Lancers when it comes to girls tennis.
Not after what happened last season.
The Panthers defeated the reigning Tier One city champions in convincing fashion with an 8-0 sweep at Wanless Park on a breezy Thursday afternoon. It was the first time the two teams had met since Leaside upset the heavily favoured Panthers in last year’s playoffs.
“We beat them last year in the regular season and they beat us in the playoffs, so I think we learned our lesson that they’ll be ready if we see them in the playoffs again,” said David Dunklemen, Panthers’ head coach.
“Based on what happened last year we really don’t put a lot of stock in this win, it’s nice to win but that’s pretty much it.”
Leaside entered the day trailing Northern Secondary by a single point, with 14 in three matches, while Lawrence had only played two matches for 10 points.
So the Panther win moves them into first overall after three meetings.
Due to numerous rain delays both teams endured, they have yet to complete their schedules — the Lancers have one remaining match and the Panthers have two.
Beating Leaside didn’t leave anybody celebrating.
“It doesn’t really mean anything to be honest with you because we finished in first place in last year as well and we didn’t win at all so it’s a regular season thing, it’s a warm up really,” said Dunklemen.
With Lawrence Park returning their entire team from a year ago, maintaining the importance of the regular season can be difficult at times but the need to improve keeps the focus of the team intact.
“It`s practice, practice, practice, they understand they’ve got to practice and keep sharp, be ready and hopefully peak at the right time,” said Dunklemen.
On the first court, Laura Goldham and Milena Massic outdueled Micha Powell and Thalia Petsis 8-4 to take three points while Bridget Fanell and Jesse Dunard held off Alexandra Gavrilovic and Nicole Thompson 8-3 to pick up two more points.
Both matches were tightly contested, though the scores wouldn’t suggest it.
“It can be a close match but on paper its not, because you play sudden death deuces,” explained Cathy Lansdowne, head coach of Leaside.
“So theoretically you could have six or seven games that have gone to deuces but you just haven’t won the sudden death, so it could be eight love but six games were tied.”
In the other two matches, Sara Pilipovic and Christine Wolf defeated Chloe Envoy and Christina Varvarikos 8-0 to score another two points for the Panthers, and Sara Dunklemen and Natalie Todd moved past Yawen Chen and Massalba Alleyne 8-2 for a single point to complete the sweep by Lawrence Park.
Coming up empty handed for the defending city champions isn’t as a total loss as this season contending for a title isn’t the focus.
“We won the cities last year, but then I lost half my team because they graduated so this is a developmental year,” said Lansdowne. “My number one team is two Grade 10s, so I get everybody back next year.”