By BRIAN JENNINGS
Since the start of the season, the undefeated Lady Knights tennis team has only dropped three matches in five contests, even without their No.1 singles player for most of it. Southington rolled off three more wins last week to improve to 5-0, and now the Knights are back to full strength.
The girls started the week off with a shutout, 7-0, against the Maloney Spartans (2-3) at home on Tuesday, April 21.
“The girls did really well, said Southington coach Robin Thompson. We took every match, but it’s a building process for some of our girls because they are seeing action that might not have before. Sometimes the scores aren’t indicative of the match and a couple matches were tighter, but it was a good win for us and I’m very pleased with the outcome.”
Angela Balaoing started her third match as the No.1 singles player for the Knights and pulled through in the second set to win her match in straight sets over Maloney’s Dom Carnot, 6-1, 7-6. Catie Wormer, Natalie Gimenez, and Abby Roy followed in step with straight-set victories.
Cassidy Race and Rianna Susco led the doubles tandems with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Maloney’s Reanna Garcia and Olivia LeFort. The teams of Sam Lohneiss-Kayla Kavanagh and Julie Falk-Olivia Ende had solid backings, just dropping one set in each of their wins.
“Regardless of the result of the match, it’s always a pleasure to play Maloney,” the coach said. “They’re well-coached and Tim Sweigard is just a really nice guy. I told the girls that we’ll always play Maloney as long as they’ll have us.”
The girls continued their success on their home court a couple days later against the Bristol Central Rams (3-1) in the rain, wind, and sleet, dropping just one match, 6-1.
“We spent a little bit of time talking about Bristol Central because they’re the toughest Bristol Central team that we’ve played in a while,” said Thompson. “I did a little scouting and learned pretty quickly that hadn’t graduated anyone form last year. So I was familiar with a lot of the girls.”
Balaoing led the Knights singles again with a win in straight sets over Bristol Central’s Arabella Goralski, 6-2, 6-1. No.3 singles player Gimenez defeated Bristol Central’s Jess McAllister, 6-2, 7-6. Roy won her match, 7-5, 7-5.
No.1 doubles pair of Race and Susco defeated Bristol Central’s Emily Goodwin and Tasha Peabody with a couple of tiebreaker winners, 7-5, 7-6. No.2 doubles team of Liz Costello-Kavanagh won their match over Bristol Central’s Sarah Warkoski and Emily McAllister, 6-4, 6-1. Falk-Ende completed the sweep.
“I geared our kids up that it could be a lot long rallies, games, and matches, but the girls really just hung in there,” the Knights coach said. “A couple of girls were in tiebreakers and pulled them out, which are things we practice in practice. So, I’m hoping those things are starting to translate into wins during the actual match.”
The Knights hit the road for Rockville the next day to take on the Rams (0-2) and stayed perfect with a 7-0 win, the third sweep of the early season.
“The girls did very well,” Thompson said. “We actually had a couple girls out due to illness. We had at least one new girl playing so that was a great opportunity for her. In the elements again trying to stay warm, the girls did really well.”
The Knights were missing two starters, but also had the return of their No.1 singles player, Alex Barmore.
Barmore picked up right where she left off and won her match against Rockville’s Petra Martinelli, 6-3, 6-2.
Balaoing, No.3 singles player Catie Wormer, and Gimenez swept their opponents in straight sets.
Out of all three doubles teams, just one set was dropped by the Knights. Kristen Mathew filled in at the No.3 doubles spot and teamed up with Falk to win their match over Rockville’s Makayla Hammand and Chris Rocha, 6-1, 6-0.
Race-Susco and Costello-Kavanagh won in straight sets.
The Knights travel to Conard to play the Chieftains (2-0) this week and look to stay undefeated.