By BRIAN JENNINGS
While the Lady Knights escaped South Windsor (1-1) with a 4-3 victory off of strong doubles play last week, it was the singles players that experienced a much tougher time.
The Knights fine-tuned their game, made some adjustments, and got back on track by dropping just one match in two victories this week. Through all of it, patience was the answer.
Southington hosted Mercy (3-2) on Wednesday, April 13 in a 6-1 victory.
The Knights swept Mercy in doubles play with Coral Tommervik and Samantha Barmore leading the way. Tommervik and Barmore won their match in straight sets, which was their second-straight victory without dropping a single game.
Molly Murphy and Carolyn Callahan (No. 2) won in straight sets. Samantha Lohneiss and Kayla Kavanagh rebounded from a loss in the first set to clinch No. 1 doubles after three long, grueling sets, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.
“They have not let the score, the fact that they’re in a third set, or the fact that they’re the last ones off the court really worry them,” said Southington coach Robin Thompson. “We kind of have a joke about me not watching them because the last thing I want to do is make them nervous. As seniors and they’re second year together, they know what they have to do.”
No. 2 singles Natalia Gimenez and No. 4 singles Abby Roy triumphed in straight sets. No. 1 single Angela Baloing won the first set, dropped the second, but clinched the match in a split-set victory, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.
No. 3 Kristen Mathew nearly completed the sweep, rebounding from a loss in the first set to tie the series before losing in split sets, 6-3, 2-6, 6-1.
Having played two matches, Thompson said that she thinks her girls are really learning that they’ve got to be patient, especially the singles players.
“There are a lot of long rallies,” the coach said. “Most of the high school girls singles players are baseline players. So they’ve really got to work on placing the ball or bringing the girls in, and then putting the shot away. Otherwise, they’re just in this very long rally situation. And for some, it’s difficult.”
A couple days later on Friday, Southington hosted Berlin (0-1), but didn’t give them any breathing room, sweeping the Redcoats, 7-0.
Southington singles players only dropped a total of seven games in the match. Gimenez posted her first shutout of the year. Mathew and Roy won in straight sets, and Balaoing dropped just three games in the first set of her win.
Doubles play proved to be much more of a tighter squeeze for the Knights.
Lohneiss and Kavanagh outlasted three sets after falling in the second set, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2. And after being up four to love, Murphy and Callahan surrendered the first set in a 7-5 tiebreaker before securing the victory, 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-2.
“This is their first year in the lineup as sophomores,” said Thompson. “We just talked about starting a new match and not dwelling on what’s already happened. You can only control what’s coming at you. Then they got back on their game and took care of the business that they needed to take care of. I’m very proud that they hung in there.”
Tommervik and Barmore won in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3.
Although Southington doubles matches resulted in much closer outcomes than singles play this week, the doubles remain undefeated on the season thus far.
“Some of the girls are understanding patience and long rallies,” the coach said. “They’re handling players, who might play with less of a pace. The girls are looking for the pace, and if it’s not there, they have to make an adjustment. I think they’re coming around to that. They had some good players here on Berlin, so we did a nice job today.”