The Lady Knights are looking to make it 12-straight years for a trip to the Class L tournament, and a pair of victories over the week moved the Lady Knight tennis team to cusp of that goal.
Doubles teams were a major concern for the Knights before they entered the tough divisional play of their regular season schedule, but Southington coach Robin Thompson said that those tandems have now settled in to a certain extent.
“It’s just how the kids perform,” the coach said. “We run a particular drill in practices and pre-match warm-ups that I think has paid some dividends for our doubles kids. The longer they play together, the more they jell.”
Thompson also said that she expects the team will have a better CCC record than they did a year ago.
“Part of that is due to attrition with the other team,” said Thompson. “The other part of that is some of the things we’re trying to do differently with doubles this year.”
The Knights are just two victories from qualifying for the Class L tournament, and they will look to get them this week with matches against Conard (1-6), NW Catholic (5-1), and Avon (1-5). Southington is currently 7-3 overall.
Win vs. Hall
MAY 1—The Knights began the week with a hard-fought 5-2 victory over Hall at home on Monday.
“Hall is typically a tough team, but they’re a little bit weaker this year, even by their coach’s own words,” said Thompson. “But I think the girls competed pretty well, and I’m very happy overall with the win.”
No. 2 doubles Sam Barmore and Safiyah Pathan, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, prevailed in three sets after dropping the first set. Freshman Nebeeka Saha filled in for Chantelle Gimenez at No. 3 doubles, due to illness, and helped Joelle Stublarec rally to a three-set winner, 6-7 (7), 6-2, 6-0.
“It was very tight in tiebreaker, but they just turned it around in the next two sets,” the coach said. “That was a nice win for them, especially for a girl that had never been in a match before.”
No. 2 singles Abby Murphy, No. 3 singles Molly Murphy, and No. 4 singles Carolyn Callahan won in straight sets.
No. 1 singles Kristen Mathew and No. 1 doubles Abby Roy and Coral Tommervik lost in straight sets.
Win at Rocky Hill
MAY 2—A couple days later, the Knights extended their winning streak to four matches by recording their third shutout of the season with a 7-0 sweep at Rocky Hill.
“It was crazy windy, like tornado windy,” said Thompson. “It was unbelievable. It was blowing across the courts and not front to back.”
In a three-hour tightly contested match, No. 1 singles Mathew prevailed in three sets, 6-1, 4-6, 7-5, over Rocky Hill’s Reva Shah. Mathew was up, 5-3, in the third set, but Shah managed to knot up the set at 5-5. However, Mathew took the last couple of games.
Shah had been moved up to play at No. 1 after Rock Hill’s usual No. 1 player went down with an injury.
“This girl competed really well, but Kristen pulled out a really tight 7-5 third-set win,” the coach said. “We tried to show her how to compete against someone that is just a complete backboard that gets everything back. I’m very happy for her to get that win.”
No. 2 singles Abby Murphy, No. 3 singles Molly Murphy, No. 4 singles Callahan, No. 1 doubles Roy and Tommervik, No. 2 doubles, Barmore and Pathan, and No. 3 doubles Stublarec and Saha won in straight sets.
Loss at Glastonbury
MAY 4—Southington’s four-match winning streak was snapped after the Knights fell, 6-1, at Glastonbury on Thursday.
“Glastonbury’s a perennial powerhouse,” said Thompson. “They feature a set of sisters that are New England ranked. We lost today but this was the best loss we’ve ever had.”
No. 2 singles Abby Murphy came away with Southington’s lone win on the day, outlasting Glastonbury’s Dolly Agrauel, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, after dropping the first set. Abby Murphy fell behind, 2-5, in the third set, and all Agrauel needed was four points to take the match.
But Abby Murphy stormed back to take the next five games to take the set. She is now 9-1 on the season.
“The kid just doesn’t play like a freshman,” the coach said. “There just aren’t words to describe what Abby did. I’m still smiling over her taking that line.”
No. 3 doubles Chantelle Gimenez and Stublarec went the full three rounds with Glastonbury’s Vibha Goyu and Gwen Butterfield, but could not hold on in the third set, falling, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. No. 1 singles Kristen Mathew, No. 3 singles Molly Murphy, No. 4 singles Carolyn Callahan, No. 1 doubles Abby Murphy and Coral Tommervik, and No. 2 doubles Sam Barmore and Safiyah Pathan lost in straight sets.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2017/05/10/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-may-12-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.