HARRISON – Clemence Balzano wasn’t 100 percent heading into the final day of the Section 1 tennis tournament at Harrison High School on Thursday.
After a tiring previous day of playing, the Rye Neck junior was so sick from a fever that she was unable to attend school earlier in the day.
But she was able to recuperate, and with the help of her doubles partner, Mizuki Shionoya, defeated North Rockland’s Anika and Akemi Dwyer 6-7 (7-4), 6-3, 6-2 in the third-place match to clinch the final spot for the state tournament.
“I spent the whole day at home asleep, and I was in a bad mood,” Balzano said. “Now that we won, I’m so happy. This made my day.”
Balzano and Shionoya lost the first set in a tie-breaker, similar to how they opened in their three-set win in the conference final last week. That experience, according to Balzano, helped them to stay focused to win the next two sets.
“That team really gave us pressure, they were attacking us,” Shionoya said. “We had stay calm and not make them do what they wanted to do and make them make mistakes.”
The sectional first-place games, in which the participants already guaranteed themselves a spot in the state tournament, was won in singles by Suffern’s Sydney Kaplan and in doubles by Ursuline’s Laina Campos and Vanessa Ciano.
Kaplan, who competed as a singles player in sectionals for the first time, handily defeated John Jay’s Anya Ivenitsky 6-2, 6-0.
Her doubles partner of the previous two years, Courtney Ollis, who was also competing as a singles player for the first time, was defeated by Arlington’s Maranda Sears, who overcame early struggles to win the third-place match 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.
“I was really nervous, because if I won, I was going (to states) and if I lost, I wasn’t,” Sears said. “In the first set, I was tight and more emotional. I knew that if I wanted to win, I had to be composed and just focus point-by-point.”
In an all-freshman doubles championship, Ursuline’s Campos and Ciano defeated Mamaroneck duo Alison Zerbib and Katherine Orgielwicz 6-4, 6-3.
“We really executed what we knew,” Campos said. “We achieved our goal of making states, and even better, we won the sectional championship; it’s a dream come true.”
The state championships start on Oct. 31 at Tri City Fitness upstate in Latham at 8:30 a.m. The finals are Nov. 2.
“We’re looking to go as far as we can,” Ciano said. “It’s going to be a challenge, but we’re prepared for states, especially after this match.”