By Phil Anastasia
There were tears at the start of the day and smiles at the end.
For Haddonfield's trio of senior captains, the last trip to Mercer County Park as members of the Bulldogs' tennis team was a little bitter and a lot sweet.
"We got a emotional at the beginning of the day," said No. 1 singles Victoria Martinez, who teammed with classmates Amanda Lanciano and Erica Pascocello to lead Haddonfield to its sixth consecutive Group 2 state title on Thursday.
Martinez, No. 2 singles Lanciano and No. 3 singles Pascocello won their matches as Haddonfield beat Holmdel, 3-2, in the state finals.
Earlier on Thursday, Haddonfield beat Mountain Lakes, 5-0, in the semifinals.
"It's our last time, so it's emotional," said Pascocello, who clinched her match and the state title with a winning shot that drew loud cheers from her teammates and Haddonfield fans.
Haddonfield (27-1), which has won 20 state titles, advanced to the Tournament of Champions. The Bulldogs received a first-round bye and will begin play Tuesday.
Haddonfield's doubles teams lost against Holmdel, with the first doubles team taking an injury default after sophomore Arnie Senopoulos was hit in the head at close range with a tennis ball and experienced some dizziness.
But the Bulldogs' three senior singles players all won in straight sets to clinch the victory.
"If you can't rely on seniors in the state finals, who can you rely on?" Haddonfield coach Jeff Holman said. "They've been through the wars."
In other action at the Tennis Center, Cherry Hill East stunned Ridgewood, 3-2, in the Group 4 semifinals but dropped a 5-0 decision to Millburn in the finals.
"'Who would've thought it,' was the story of our season," said Cherry Hill East coach Mary Jewett, whose team did not have a senior in its top seven.
Cherry Hill East won the semifinals when the first doubles team of freshman Kristina Klinisova and sophomore Lauren Romisher rallied from a 6-0 deficit in the super tie-breaker to win, 6-2, 1-6, 10-6.
"We just never gave up," Romisher said.
Pennsville won its Group 1 semifinal by a 3 1/2-1 1/2 score oer Vernona but dropped a 4-1 decision to Glen Ridge in the finals.
"That was a great Group 1 team," Pennsville coach Dan Lamont said of Glen Ridge.
Moorestown lost, 4-1, to Montville in the Group 3 semifinals. Senior No. 1 singles Breezy Maravich earned the Quakers' point.
Group 2 state final
Haddonfield 3, Holmdel 2
Victoria Martinez, Hadd, def. Alicia Lai, 6-1, 6-1; Amanda Lanciano, Hadd, def. Sarah Yan, 6-2, 6-3; Erica Pascocello, Hadd, def. Lucy Wang, 6-0, 6-3; Nandin Krishaswamy and Steph Pugh, Hol, def. Chelsea Brown and Arpie Seopoulos, 5-4, injury default; Angela Tu and Tiffany Chen, Hol, def. Kade Burns and Katie Pileggi, 6-1, 6-0.
Group 2 state semifinal
Haddonfield 5, Mountain Lakes 0
Group 4 state final
Millburn 5, Cherry Hill East 0
Group 4 state semifinal
Cherry Hill East 3, Ridgewood 2
Group 1 state final
Glen Ridge 4, Pennsville 1
Group 1 semifinal
Pennsville 3 1/2, Vernona 1 1/2
Group 3 semifinal
Montville 4, Moorestown 1
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