Emma Messenger passed on the chance to compete in the Section 9 girls tennis tournament as a singles player.
The Marlboro High School senior, who was undefeated at first singles this season, opted instead to play on a doubles team with her sister, Grace.
“Thinking about it, playing doubles with my sister was the way to go,” Emma Messenger said. “Looking back, I made the right decision.”
Right she was.
On Wednesday, the Messengers won the Section 9 doubles title, defeating Jackie Grundfast and Ava Ghobadian of Warwick in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2 at Match Point Sports Complex in Goshen.
It marked Marlboro’s first girls tennis doubles section title in program history.
“Grace wanted to play her best for her big sister,” said Marlboro coach Larry Diulio. “Emma was solid and consistent and Grace was outstanding. They’re true competitors.”
To reach the final, the Messengers beat Rebecca Andrews and Kelsey Reivers of Goshen, 6-1, 6-0. Once they clinched a berth in the final, the duo took a certain motto to heart.
“They kind of had a mantra: Smarter, not harder,” Diulio said of his winners. “They focused on using their hand skills to their advantage, especially in net play.”
The Messenger sisters became the latest Marlboro team to achieve success. Last year the football team won a Section 9 title, while the boys and girls basketball teams reached the New York State final four. The baseball and softball teams won state championships in the spring.
“It feels good,” Grace Messenger said. “When people think of sectionals, they’ll think of me and Emma winning the doubles title.”
Diulio expressed similar feelings.
“I’m glad to be able to add tennis to the outstanding accomplishments that we’ve had at Marlboro,” the coach said. “(Emma and Grace) are happy and I’m proud.”
A.J. Martelli: email@example.com, 845-437-4836, Twitter: @AJM_PoJoSports