‘An epic match’: Wave edged for first time since 2015

Wreckers 4, Wave 3

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Emily Neuner in 2016 action. She had her best match so far of 2017 against Staples, and has won every encounter. Courtesy Darien Athletic Foundation

GIRLS TENNIS

The wind did blow and dark descended, stopping Darien’s 3-3 match at Staples last week on a scary movie note.

I applaud all of them for performing under pressure that has likely not been felt in a high school regular season tennis match in a long time.

— Anne-Lise Brown

High anxiety and shrieks of excitement, silent and actual, resumed, when the match finished on Saturday, with it all falling on the shoulders of four young teens facing off in a showdown to determine whether Darien or the Wreckers would continue as the undefeated team in the league.

“It’s easy to focus on that three doubles match, since it was the one delayed,” said Darien coach Anne-Lise Brown. “But on the whole it was an epic match.”

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Kateri Martin stays undefeated. Courtesy Darien Athletic Foundation

Darien’s Quin Wolters-Hailey Zimmerman went down very much swinging to Lily Smith-Olivia Gordy, winning 6-3 in the first set, then edged 7-6, 7-6 in last two.

“I applaud all of them for performing under pressure that has likely not been felt in a high school regular season tennis match in a long time,” Brown said.

Darien goes to 11-1 on the season, Staples is 12-0.

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Lilly Ma stays without a loss.

Kateri Martin beat Alyssa DiMaio 6-3, 6-1 at No. 1 singles and sophomore Lilly Ma won 6-2, 6-3 over Olivia Foster at No. 2.

“Kateri and Lilly won fairly soundly to start us out with a 2-0 lead,” Brown said. “But the singles match that stood out was on court four where Emily Neuner (won) in two tie-breaker sets.

Neuner won 7-6, 7-6 at No. 4 over Vanessa Mauricio.

“Neuner, well known for her excellent defense, was really aggressive and dominated most points,” Brown said. “Remaining calm and focused, she closed out the match to make it 2-2.”

Emilia Callery lost 6-3, 4-6 to Tess Rubin at No. 3 singles, Mia Dursht-Daphne Gray lost 6-2, 7-6 to Megan Brown-Kristin Butler at one doubles.

“Emilia and both one and two doubles fought hard,” Brown said. “So then we were left cheering for three doubles.”

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Daphne Gray stays sharp at the net. Courtesy Darien Athletic Foundation

Winning the first set, Wolters-Zimmerman went to a tie-breaker in the second set, earning match points, but closing proved to be a finger tip or two out of reach.

“The third set quickly saw Staples jump out to a 5-1 lead with darkness fast approaching,” said Brown.

Darien held serve to get to 5-2 and then broke to make it 5-3.

“At that point a Staples player wanted to stop due to the poor light,” Brown said. “But the Staples coach suggested to play, which (we) were willing to do.”

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Mia Dursht ready to take a whack. Courtesy Darien Athletic Foundation

The sun could not be persuaded.

“After one more service game for Staples, and another break, darkness was fully upon us,” Brown said. “And players had to stop playing.”

Saturday the match resumed in Westport.

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Susie Alptekin keeps her eye on the ball. Courtesy Darien Athletic Foundation

“We returned to pick up where we left off, and all players were obviously nervous,” Brown added. “Darien came out strong and got the match to a third set tie-break, but eventually lost 10-8 to give the win to Staples.”

It’s been a run that’s seen the Wave win states two seasons ago and FCIACs two years running.

“First loss since 2015, which is tough,” Brown said. “But it provides us with laser focus for (FCIACs) when we hope to see Staples again.”