By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Lady Knights girls tennis team (16-1) earned three more wins last week to put themselves in uncharted waters. They may have to share the CCC West Title with NW Catholic and Farmington, but the Lady Knights will be hanging their first conference banner in the gym.
The Knights defeated Newington (11-5) in their only home match of the week on Monday, May 18, 5-2.
Catie Wormer fought her way back to beat Newington’s Natalia Rozio in the third set after dropping the first, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. Angela Balaoing won in straight sets.
It also took Sam Lohneiss-Kayla Kavanagh three sets, but they pulled through and got the job done against Newington’s Mrunmayi Kulkarni-Shivani Patel after winning the first set, but dropping the second, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1. Cassidy Race-Rianna Susco and Liz Costello-Julie Falk won in straight sets.
“It was a real quality match,” said Southington coach Robin Thompson. “We called last week our defining week, but Newington is not someone you disregard. It was a really strong win and put us in the best position we could hope for, in terms of the CCC West. Newington is a really good team and is well coached.”
The Knights returned to action after a couple days’ rest on Thursday on the road to defeat Cheshire (10-9), 7-0.
Barmore dropped the first set against Cheshire’s Sara Bruce, but managed to take the next two sets, 6-3, 7-5, 6-0. Wormer battled back after winning the first set, but dropping the second, winning in the third set against Cheshire’s Katherine Wang, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. Balaoing won in straight sets against Cheshire’s Durga Rathi after rallying from a tiebreaker in the first set, 7-6 (6), 6-3. Gimenez won in straight sets.
Lohneiss-Roy battled back after dropping the first set to take the next two against Cheshire’s Ariana Pepper-Camille Bisson, 7-5, 6-3, 7-5. The match lasted for nearly three hours. Race-Susco and Costello-Falk won in straight sets.
“You look at Cheshire and might say that they’re not having a real banner year, but you really need to look at the opponents they play. They’re playing some top-level programs in the state,” said Thompson. “This too, like Newington, at the beginning was tough. We talk to the kids about needing to continue to fight hard to win so that our standing in the state tournament is the best that it can be.”
The Knights rounded out the week the next day with a 7-0 victory at New Britain (8-9). The win clinched a share of the CCC West division title with Northwest Catholic, which was the first in the program’s history.
“Our captains have talked about this since day one of our season back in March,” said the coach. “Not having a banner in the gym made a target on their back, and it set a goal for them that they thought they could achieve. To win the CCC West is really special to me as a former player, in recognition of all the great players that have come through the girls’ tennis program for a very long time.”
Both singles and doubles won in straight sets.
“The kids knew what was at stake here,” the Knights coach said. “They knew it was our last CCC West match and that we needed a win to at least force a tie in the division. That was their motivation. I don’t think I really had to say too much.”
The Knights close out the regular season this week when they host Bristol Eastern (10-7).