By KEVIN ROBERTS
Southington girls tennis lost, 5-2, to Glastonbury this past Saturday at the Bob Garry tennis courts. If you heard and saw the reaction of coach Robin Thompson to the result, you would have thought the Lady Knights had defeated the Tomahawks.
Glastonbury has been a dominant team in the area for years, but Southington gave its opponent a great run. The Knights played hard, despite being down half of their No. 1 and No. 2 doubles teams because of injuries.
“From last year, they graduated nine of 10 (starters). We graduated five of 10, but we knew we had talent, so I thought it was an opportunity for us this year,” Thompson said. “Despite the fact that we were down two of our starters, wow. Like I said to the girls, I’ve never been so happy in a loss in my life.”
Southington dropped to 8-2 on the season. The Knights started the week with a 6-1 win at Maloney on April 29, then defeated Berlin 7-0 on the road on May 1.
Four of the seven matches against Glastonbury were decided by super tiebreaker. No. 1 singles player Abby Murphy and her opponent Catie Zak gave the spectators plenty of good tennis. Murphy won the first set 7-5, but Zak took the second set 6-2 and was up 9-7 in the super tiebreaker with two match points. Murphy never wavered and won the last four points to claim the super tiebreaker, 11-9, and the match.
“You don’t see fear in Abby,” Thompson said. “She’s down 9-7, and I might be showing fear, but she just played.”
In No. 1 doubles, Chantelle Gimenez moved from singles to pair up with Kate Hardy. Like Murphy, Gimenez and Hardy won the first set, 6-3, then lost the second set, 4-6. Glastonbury’s Sofia von der Esch and Vibha Gogu went ahead 5-0 in the 10-point super tiebreaker. Gimenez and Hardy grabbed two of the next three points, but still trailed 6-2.
No big deal. Gimenez and Hardy claimed eight of the final nine points, took the super tiebreaker, 10-7, and the match.
“She had doubles experience, and watching how she plays, and I said you know what, this might work,” Thompson said of pairing Gimenez with Hardy.
Both players communicated well with each other, even though Saturday marked the first time they had ever played doubles together. There were efforts like those from Murphy, Gimenez and Hardy all over the place for Southington, even in defeat.
No. 2 singles player Joelle Stublarec lost her first set, 6-1, to Anne Bestor Blair, then forced a super tiebreaker after winning the second set, 6-4. Stublarec continued to battle until the final point of the match, ultimately losing the super tiebreaker, 10-8.
In yet another close match, Riley Tindall and Glastonbury’s Emma Kanton went to a super tiebreaker at No. 4 singles. Tindall won the first set, 6-3, but Kantor rallied back late to take the second set, 7-5. Kantor won the super tiebreaker, 10-7, and took the match.
“But for a couple of points, we’d be looking at a 4-3 victory,” Thompson said. “Given the hand we were dealt, I can’t ask for anything more than that.”
Besides Gimenez moving to doubles, Jess Nguyen played her first varsity match at No. 3 singles. She lost but played OK for her first time out, according to Thompson. In doubles, Jillian Watson teamed up with Avery Korp at No. 2 while Avery Halloran slid in at No. 3 with Ali Bruce. Both doubles teams lost, but didn’t go down without a fight.
“I’m very happy today. For a loss, I’m ecstatic,” Thompson said.
APRIL 29—The Knights swept singles in the matchup with the Spartans.
Murphy, Gimenez and Tindall all won their singles matches by the same scores, 6-1, 6-0. Stublarec won her No. 3 singles match, 6-2, 6-2. Gianna Wadowski and Bruce took No. 2 doubles, 6-3, 6-4; while Watson and Alina Rivera won No. 3 doubles, 6-2, 6-2.
MAY 1—The Knights won all seven matches against the Redcoats.
Murphy swept her No. 1 singles match, 6-0, 6-0. Both Stublarec and Tindall (No. 3 and No. 4 singles) won their matches, 6-1, 6-0. Gimenez won her No. 2 singles match, 6-1, 6-4. In doubles, Hardy and Wadowski won, 6-2, 6-1, at No. 1. Watson and Bruce held off a late charge to win at No. 2 doubles, 5-7, 6-0, 10-8. At No. 3 doubles, Halloran and Rivera led the super tiebreaker, then faced two match points before rallying for the win, 4-6, 6-4, 12-10.
Up next: Southington is scheduled for three matches this week. The Knights hosted Simsbury on Monday, then went on the road against Newington on Thursday. On Friday, Southington hosts Windsor on Senior Day at 3:45 p.m.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com