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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 22, 2011

Peda’s power prevails

By Jordan J. Michael

GUILDERLAND –– Gabriela Peda was getting on Claire Schmitz’s nerves. Peda made endless returns to Schmitz until she broke down and made errors. Schmitz tried to conceal her frustration, but it was as clear as the setting sun.

Peda, a junior and the number-one seed on the Guilderland girls’ tennis team, had control of her match at home on Monday. Tennis powerhouse Emma Willard won its other eight matches, but Schmitz was dominated by Peda, who won, 6-3, 6-2.

“I kept hitting heavy, deep balls right back at her,” Peda said of her game plan against Schmitz. “I forced her into errors. I didn’t hit one flat serve. I spun them all.”

Schmitz had a few decent rallies with Peda, but she routinely hit the net. Every time Schmitz hit the mesh, she let out a moan or a yelp, asking herself, “Why?” She was ready to explode.

Peda told The Enterprise that her own mentality could use some work. “I just try to stay ahead,” she said. “If you’re thinking negative, then nothing goes your way.”

Strength was Peda’s biggest advantage over the smaller Schmitz. Peda, who won a match at last year’s state competition, credits her powerful strokes to constant hitting in practice and her focus on fitness.

“I’m dedicated to tennis,” said Peda, who wants to play Division I in college. “It keeps me motivated for everything else that I do.”

Lady Dutch Head Coach Deb O’Brien said that Peda has been with the team since she was in seventh grade. “She’s steady, committed, and disciplined,” O’Brien said. “She looks at the whole package –– nutrition needs, fitness level, and tennis skills.”

As Guilderland’s best player, Peda tries to set a good example for her teammates. “I’ll take them with me to do fitness stuff because it helps so much,” she said. “I can bring them concentration and focus, too.”

Emma Willard, a private girls’ boarding school in Troy, is an elite team with no affiliation with any leagues. Head Coach Judith Curry asks O’Brien to play her team every season. O’Brien said that playing Emma Willard is good experience for her players.

“They know that Emma Willard is tough,” O’Brien said after being asked if the rest her players would feel bad after losing every match. “They’re not down. It’s just another day of tennis.”

O’Brien likes to focus on strategy and mental toughness, but she can’t correct the players’ form when they’re in the middle of a match. “The intensity isn’t as high as some other sports, but it’s enjoyable,” she said. “The girls have fun and learn.”

Guilderland is a young team with three starting sophomores, but Peda hopes for a far run through sectionals.

“Placement comes with power,” she said. “There’s a purpose for every shot.”

Here are the scores from Monday’s match against Emma Willard:

–– Gabriela Peda (GHS) defeated Claire Schmitz, 6-3, 6-2;

–– Chassidy Kiwa (EW) defeated Monica Chappidi, 6-0, 6-1;

–– Keishonea Armstrong (EW) defeated Jessica Marinstein, 6-0, 6-1;

–– Molly Goodman (EW) defeated Liza Molloy, 6-3, 6-2;

–– Mitali Das (EW) defeated Kayla Gallelli, 6-1, 6-1;

–– Sam Blond (EW) defeated Laura Tang, 6-0, 6-0;

–– Kailin Baechle and Bett Ma (EW) defeated Sahana Chaudhry and Anna Jacquinot, 6-0, 6-1;

–– Mel Dincen and Grace Smith (EW) defeated Michelle Xiong and Jessie Doyle, 6-1, 6-1; and

–– Alex Steck and Mata Ragixavan (EW) defeated Justina Liu and Haewan Hwang, 7-6, 6-4.

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