MADISON — It was really nothing new for Breanna Kanagy or any of her teammates. Madison girls tennis has operated on a razor thin margin of error all season.

With just five girls on the team, the Bulldogs start each match a point down, since they don’t have the requisite seven players to field a second doubles team. That was the case Thursday when they squared off in the hot sun against Hall-Dale in a Class C South quarterfinal match.

With the match tied at 2-all, it came down to the second singles winner — Kanagy and Hall-Dale’s Maggie Gross. Kanagy sealed the 3-2 victory for the Bulldogs with a 6-2, 6-1 win, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any pressure.

“Definitely,” said Kanagy, who had just watched teammate Jillian Holden lose in first singles to Hall-Dale’s Naomi Lynch. “Jill’s a great player, sometimes she has off days. I was looking at that.”

Third-seeded Madison (10-1) will play at No. 2 Maranacook in a regional semifinal Saturday at 1 p.m., while No. 6 Hall-Dale finished 6-5.

None of the matches Thursday went to three sets, a good thing since the temperature on the courts hovered around 90 degrees.

“The elements were tough for both teams,” Hall-Dale coach Guy Cousins said. “We tried to do our best to make sure everybody was hydrated, but you could see it certainly took a toll on both sides.”

Lynch handed Holden just her second loss of the season (6-2, 6-2), while the Madison doubles team of Kynsey Hibbard and Jenna Davis defeated Hazel Clark and Olivia Bourque 6-2, 7-5.

Just a freshman, Lynch has come on strong this season and showed her athleticism with her court coverage. She ran down a particularly hard shot following a long rally in the final set, and hit a backhand winner down the line that led to a service break.

Hall-Dale’s Hazel Clark returns a shot during a doubles match of a Class C South quarterfinal in Madison on Thursday. Photo by Nikolas Hample

“I love tennis and it was really fun to play against her today,” Lynch said. “She brought out the best tennis skills I have today.”

Lynch not only played on the tennis team this year but also ran track for Hall-Dale. She will compete in Saturday’s Class C meet in the 400-meter run and two relay events.

“She’s very athletic and she’s been getting some good tennis instruction,” Cousins said. “Her mechanics are very good and she has a good concept of the game. She has great court coverage and a sense where to play the next volley.”

Holden began the season lower on the singles ladder but worked her way to the top spot after the first two matches, losing just once in the regular season. She fell behind 3-0 to Lynch in the first set and never recovered.

“Going into it I knew with the temperature Jill struggles with the heat,” Madison coach Josh Newhall said. “(Lynch) is a very solid player, technically savvy. She does all the basic things very well.”

Hall-Dale lost its first four matches of the season, including a 3-2 decision to Madison, before winning the final six. Without a senior on the 12-member team, the future looks bright.

“From where started the season to where we are today we’re very pleased where we ended up,” Cousins said. “The girls came back in terms of competing and played with a lot of energy and played with a lot of heart.”

Madison, which went 5-5 a year ago, will lose three seniors, leaving just two returning players.

“The plan right now is to go to gym classes in the winter and sit in on the gym class because I don’t work in the school and hopefully I can find at least three more,” Newhall said. “Another thing we’re talking about is getting a junior high program. It’s a week-long program but at least it gets some kids exposed to it.”

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