By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Lady Knights tennis team (13-1) swept the week with three conference wins over Farmington, Hall, and Simsbury. Southington won easily in each contest, 5-2.
The Knights started off the week by welcoming the Farmington Indians (10-1) to their home courts on Monday, May 11 with a 5-2 win.
Angela Balaoing dropped her first set, 6-2, but came back to take the next two sets, 6-3, 6-4. Catie Wormer won the first, 6-4, but dropped the next set, 6-4, before clinching the match with a 6-2 win in the third set.
The Knights may have split singles, but the big story was the performance of the doubles. Sam Lohneiss-Kayla Kavanagh and Liz Costello-Julie Falk won their matches in straight sets. Cassidy Race-Rianna Susco lost the second set to Farmington’s Kathryn Quirk-Julia Meehan, 6-2, after winning the first, 6-4, but finished the match off by taking the third, 6-4.
“This was a really tight match and in this case, we had three, three-setters and we took all of them,” said Southington coach Robin Thompson. “Even though we got the 5-2 win, it could have gone either way. There were two matches of the day. No.1 doubles of Race-Susco secured the win for us and got us our fourth win winning in three sets. That was really nice job and was a strong CCC West victory for them.”
The Knights hosted the Hall Warriors (9-4) two days later with another 5-2 victory.
Again, the Knights split their singles matches, but this time the winners and losers would flip flop. Alex Barmore and Natalie Gimenez won in straight sets.
Once again, all three doubles won for the Knights. Race-Susco and Costello-Falk won in straight sets. Lohneiss-Kavanagh lost the first set, but battled back to take the next two, 6-3, 6-4.
“This is the defining week for us,” said Thompson. “Hall is always a quality program. So for us to compete and almost close to having a 7-0 decision really just shows how the girls are determined and continue to fight. Today was a really good win. I’m really happy that we swept in the doubles, including a three-set win at No.2 doubles. That’s promising for the future.”
On Friday, the Knights pushed their win streak to four games with a 5-2 victory over the Simsbury Trojans.
Barmore and Gimenez won in straight sets. Balaoing won in straight sets, holding on in the second set winning in a tiebreaker, 6-2, 7-6 (1). Both Barmore and Balaoing had lost to the same opponents last year, but not this time around.
For the first time this season, the Knights experienced two tiebreakers in the same match. Race-Susco pulled out a tough match against Simsbury’s Sophie Sloan-Emma Kyzwat that went down to the wire. After losing the first set in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (5), Race-Susco scraped and clawed their way back to take the
next two sets, winning the third in the a tiebreaker, 6-3, 7-6 (5). Lohneiss-Roy won in straight sets, just dropping a game. Costello-Falk batted Simsbury’s Emily Sullivan-Claire Alix after losing the first set, 6-2, and winning the second set in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (5), but fell short in the deciding third set, 6-2.
“This is almost beyond words,” said Thompson. “We lost another match in the third set that could have gone either way. Just like the past couple of matches, the score doesn’t technically indicate how tight the match was. It just talks to their grit and determination and I’m so proud…We talked about everything we’ve done so far, to try and prepare them for this week. This was the toughest week on our schedule and they just got it done. So hopefully we’ll have success the rest of the way and we’ll see how the conference standings shake out.”
The Knights look to stay hot this week against Newington (10-3), Cheshire (10-7), and New Britain (8-6).