PORT CHESTER – With so many great players in Section 1’s girls tennis tournament bracket, the expectations weren’t high for Rebecca Lim.
The Briarcliff freshman, after all, did lose to one of the seeded players, Plesantville’s Olivia Ashton, the previous week at the conference tournament.
So the mindset for Lim, who entered her first-ever sectional tournament as an unseeded player, was to just focus on playing her best.
It turned out that her best would be more than good enough.
She managed to advance all the way to Sunday’s championship match at the Sound Shore Indoor Tennis facility, where she defeated Yorktown’s Caitlin Ferrante, one of Section 1’s top players, 6-1, 6-3 in straight sets to capture an improbable title.
“It felt good, especially for my first time playing in sectionals and not being seeded,” Lim said. “I think I did pretty good.”
Along the way to the championship, Lim pulled several upsets. After defeating Rye Neck’s Lucy Friedman handily in the opening round, she shocked the tournament’s second seed, Ursuline’s Keira Tobia, in the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 7-5 win on Saturday. She followed that up with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Ashton in a rematch victory in the semifinals.
“I lost to (Ashton) in conferences even though it was a pretty close match; I just knew I had to play my best and see what happened,” Lim said. “Every match, I just kept getting better. I kept getting more consistent.”
Ferrante, who entered sectionals as the fourth seed, pulled an upset of her own to get to the final and guarantee herself a spot on Section 1’s state tournament team.
The sophomore beat her friend, Rye’s Nathalie Rodilosso, in the semifinals 1-6, 6-2, 6-1.
Rodilosso entered the tournament as the top seed having barely lost a game, let alone a set, during the regular season.
“It was a big match for me to win, and I had a lot of confidence going in,” Ferrante said of the match. “I’ve known her from USTA matches, since I was 12. She’s a nice girl.”
After her loss, Rodilosso bounced back with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Ashton in the third-place game.
Rodilosso, a senior who returned to the high school scene after a two-year period training at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy, grabbed the third and final spot on the state tournament team with the win.
“Making it to states was my goal, and even though I would have loved to win this tournament, I made the most of this match,” Rodilosso said. “I just really wanted to play for Rye senior year and be part of a team. It’s a lot more fun than all the individual junior tennis stuff and going to college, I’m going to be on a team. It’s a lot more fun having teammates there.”
Lim, Ferrante and Rodilosso will all return to Port Chester next Saturday, where Sound Shore Indoor Tennis will be hosting the state tournament.
For Lim, the mindset will be the same as it was at the start of sectionals: just to do her best.
“I’m looking forward to it a lot,” Lim said. “I know the level is going to be really high, and I just have to play the way I did today, and maybe even better.”