By John Goralski
Rianna Susco strolled to the fence between sets and flashed a wide grin up to her coach. On Wednesday, April 10, the girls tennis team had already clinched their third win of the season, but Coach Robin Thompson kept that fact from her sophomore player.
After all, you can’t reproduce this sort of experience in practice.
“I’m so impressed with the way that she’s playing,” Thompson said about Susco. “She lost a tough one a couple of days ago in Berlin. We made an adjustment, and she’s really taken to it really well.”
Susco would eventually win her No. 4 singles match in a split-set battle that spanned almost three hours.
The Knights won three contests last week against senior laden squads, and the Lady Knight underclassmen are holding their own.
“My singles lineup is all sophomores, and some of these kids are beating seniors,” said Thompson. “I expected us to compete in all these matches early on, but I’m already seeing a little bit of growth in some of the girls that I didn’t expect to see it this early.”
With a tight win over Berlin and two easier wins over Middletown and Bristol Central, Southington has already jumped out to a 4-0 record.
The weather is heating up. The competition is getting more difficult, but the Lady Knights are already ahead of the curve. Thompson cautions fans that the upcoming conference schedule would pose problems for a senior heavy team, but she’s enjoying the success while it lasts.
“We set up our non-conference schedule to kind of ready us for conference play, but we’re doing a nice job,” she said. “They’re handling it pretty good. It’s all about execution, and it gets better with more practice. I think that the more we play, the better it will come-especially our doubles play. There’s a lot of strategy and tactical pieces.”
On Monday, the Knights out-lasted a tough Berlin team to capture their first road win. Caroline Rodmanand Cassidy Race captured singles wins against upperclassmen. Angela Balaoing and Taylor Grucza beat a pair of seniors at No. 1 doubles, while Emily Sheehan and Maeghan Chapman won at No. 3 doubles to clinch the series, while sophomore Alex Barmore lost in split sets.
The trend continued against Middletown with Rodman, Barmore, Race, and Susco sweeping singles, while Chapman and Sheehan secured a win at No. 3 doubles.
On Friday, Southington almost scored a shutout at Bristol Central. Once again, Southington’s singles swept the field while Liz Costello-Emily Grucza and Bailey Potter-Emily Sheehan earned wins at doubles.
With the victories, the Knights improved to 4-0.