By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Lady Knights girls tennis team’s (17-1) spring season came to a close on Wednesday, June 3 with a 6-1 loss at home to No.14-seed New Canaan (11-5) in the first round of the Class L Tournament.
New Canaan defeated No.19-seed North Haven, 7-0, in the qualifying round. The Knights received a first-round bye in the tournament as a No.3-seed, but New Canaan upset the Knights in the first full round of the tournament.
Angela Balaoing defeated New Canaan’s Camryn Schlim in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2, but Balaoing was the only Southington player to win her match.
“Personally, I feel like that was one of my best matches of the season, especially playing a girl coming from the Fairfield County who has a really good overall record,” said Balaoing. “I always struggle with my forehand, but today I feel like I was really accurate with it. My serve percentage was probably high because she had a lot of trouble returning my serves.”
Balaoing also said that she thought this year was probably one of the team’s best varsity seasons with the program’s first conference championship and a home game in the state tournament.
“Everything our team was able to accomplish this year, especially making the banner, made me really proud,” she said. “Every time I played, I always thought about the banner in my head and all the things that Alex and the captains said to help get us pumped up for matches. I’m just really proud of achieving that goal and doing it for the seniors and coaches.”
The rest of the singles and doubles matches were decided in straight sets.
“The team’s effort and performance was really very well,” said Southington coach Robin Thompson. “If you read a 6-1 score in the paper, it kind of sound like it wasn’t much of a match. That’s not the case. We came a few games away from having a 4-3 result. To me, that’s success. When you’re playing FCIAC teams, it’s a grueling task. Our kids had a tremendous amount of long rallies. For our match to go about an hour and a half, that was a barometer for me to see how quickly or how not so quickly the result came in. Playing a team like this is always good for all the kids to see what that next level is all about.”
New Canaan went on to lose, 7-0, to No.6-seed Darien (14-2) in the quarterfinal at Southington that same day, following their match with the Knights. Darien would eventually go on to defeat No.4-seed Staples (16-1), 4-0, in the final at Wilton High School on Friday.
With Southington’s success in the regular season, state officials took notice. The Knights earned entries for six girls (two singles, two doubles) into the 2015 Open Tournament on Saturday, which marks the most in recent years.
The singles played at Conard High School and the doubles played at Hall High School.
No.11-seed Cassidy Race-Rianna Susco defeated Jonathan Law’s Sravya Jaladanki-Raeven Grant, 8-1 in the first round and advanced to the second round where they defeated Sheehan’s Amy Caplan-Cassidy Duffany, 8-4. Race-Susco were eventually defeated in straight sets in the third round by No.6-seed Kristen Rivera-Abigail Roth of Weston, 6-0, 6-0. No.7-seed Sam Lohneiss-Kayla Kavanagh advanced to the first round after defeating Granby Memorial’s Elizabeth Fetzner-Meaghan Daley, 8-3, in the opening round. Lohneiss-Kavanagh would eventually fall in the first round to No.8-seed Kimberly Lao-Margretta Hartman of Glastonbury, 8-1.
In the singles bracket, No.20-seed Balaoing defeated Crosby’s Klea Kaso, 8-0, in the opening round. No.10-seed Reilly Fitzgibbons of Haddam-Killingworth would later defeat Balaoing in the first round, 8-1. Alex Barmore advanced to the second round after defeating Weston’s Andi Rosenblatt, 9-7, but would come up short against No.12-seed Cami Adajian of Fairfield Ludlowe, 8-0.