By BRIAN JENNINGS
After playing back-to-back postseason matches down by the Fairfield County coast in the same day, the No. 13 Lady Knight tennis team was eliminated from the Class L tournament after they were swept, 7-0, by No. 4 Darien in the first round on Saturday. Although the Knights managed to take just three games against the Blue Wave, Southington coach Robin Thompson still has the team’s 6-1 victory over No. 20 Hall in the qualifying round to look back on.
“I’m proud of the fact that we still went out there and played our game,” the coach said. “We got a win knowing that the next round was going to be the polar opposite. They gave us their Saturday and a long holiday weekend, and that’s the beauty of the girls we get.”
But wait. There’s more.
On Monday, the CIAC announced that Darien was disqualified after self-reporting the use of an ineligible player. Southington’s loss was reversed, and the Knights will face No. 5 Greenwich (15-2) in a quarterfinal matchup in Greenwich on May 31.
Win vs. Hall
MAY 27—Southington’s match against the Warriors started around 10 a.m. at Darien High School. Abby Roy and Coral Tommervik played the only three-setter in the match after they prevailed over Hall’s Claire Belucci and Hannah Maidman in a super tiebreaker, 3-6, 6-1, 10-4.
It’s evident that Roy and Tommervik can hit with a lot of pace, but pace does you no good if you can’t keep the ball in play. After dropping the first set, the duo turned it around in the second set by taking a little off their pace and picking their moment.
“They learned a little about patience,” said Thompson. “That was the difference maker for them, and that got them a nice win. Had they applied it a little earlier, they probably would have just gone two sets.”
Abby Murphy, Molly Murphy, and Carolyn Callahan won in straight sets. Abby Murphy and Molly Murphy dropped just one game. Sam Barmore and Nebeeka Saha and Chantelle Gimenez and Joelle Stublarec won in straight sets, each pair dropping just one game.
Kristen Mathew fell in straight sets to Hall’s Katelyn Seidman, 7-6 (5), 6-3.
Loss at Darien
MAY 27—With about an hour of mandated rest, the Knights were back on Darien’s courts to play against the Blue Wave in the afternoon.
Mathew, Abby Murphy, Molly Murphy, and Callahan lost in straight sets. Matthew, Abby Murphy, and Callahan each took just one game in their matches, which were the only three games Southington came away with against Darien. Roy and Tommervik, Barmore and Saha, and Gimenez and Stublarec lost in straight sets as well.
Darien’s top singles player, Kateri Martin, was the 2015 state open champion and 2016 state open runner-up.
“Most of the teams down in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference are high-level talent,” said Thompson. “It’s just a whole different environment down there. There might be some teams that we can compete with, but overall, they’re a pretty high-level style of tennis.”
No matter how Southington fares in the next round, the Lady Knights are not done. Abby Murphy, along with Roy and Tommervik, have qualified for the state open, which is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 3. Early rounds of singles matches will be played at Conard High School in West Hartford.
Early rounds of doubles matches will be played at Hall High School in West Hartford. Sunday, June 4 will be used as a rain date.
Southington’s regular season finale at Wethersfield (15-3) was cancelled, due to rain, as the Knights finished the regular season at 11-5 overall (8-2 home, 3-3 away), placing third out of five teams in the CCC Central Blue with a regional record of 5-4 and divisional record of 2-2. Glastonbury (16-1, 9-0) won the CCC Central Blue title. Simsbury (11-2, 8-1) finished as CCC Central Blue runner-up.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2017/05/30/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-june-2-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.