Ludlowe’s Price sisters, Darien’s Zhang win CIAC girls tennis invitational titles

MIDDLETOWN — Gabby and Ellie Price are veterans on the Ludlowe girls tennis team, but it wasn’t until this spring that they were paired together as the Falcons’ No. 1 tandem.

So how did the pairing go?

“It went really great,” Gabby said with a smile. “We went undefeated, so there were no issues.”

The Price sisters capped their perfect season by defeating Darien’s Grace Althoff and Ava deCastro in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3, and capturing the doubles championship at the CIAC Girls Tennis Invitational at Wesleyan University on Friday.

The duo was the No. 1 seed and went 4-0 in the week-long tournament. They won their first two matches in straight sets before rallying past Staples’ Jordana Latzman and Audrey Kercher 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in Thursday’s semifinals.

“We went into (the tournament) confident and we knew that when we play our best, we could really take down anyone,” Gabby, a senior, said. “We lifted each other every day and went into it with a positive mindset.”

“It was really fun,” Ellie, a junior, said of playing with her sister. “It’s easy to talk to your sister. You can be blunt and honest which I think is really nice during matches. We just clicked and it really worked out.”

In singles, Darien freshman Lauren Zhang defeated last year’s champion, Kiley Pickens of Amity, 6-2, 6-0 to claim the crown.

Zhang, unbeaten this spring, helped the Blue Wave claim FCIAC and Class L championships before going 5-0 at the Invitational.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Zhang said of the season. “I love my teammates, I love my coach. The matches and practices are so much fun and everybody is so supportive of each other. Everyone wants the best for each other.”

Zhang had faced Pickens, a junior, in the Class L final on Sunday, winning 6-4, 6-0 to help Darien take the team title 5-2. Zhang said having played Pickens so recently did help Friday.

“Knowing her game a little bit definitely helped me,” Zhang said. “Going into the match, I knew what to prepare for and what to expect from her. Kiley’s a great player and I was just trying to get comfortable on the court, play my game, and not let outside factors influence me too much. Winning felt great and we had a great match.”

While Zhang’s career at Darien is just beginning, Gabby Price is going out on top, alongside her sister.

“It doesn’t feel real,” Gabby said. “I’ve been part of this tea for four years and I’ll miss it so much. But this was the only want I’d want to go out, so I’m very happy.”; @dstewartsports


Singles championship: No. 2 Lauren Zhang (Darien) def. No. 1 Kiley Pickens (Amity) 6-2, 6-0; Doubles championship: No. 1 Gabby Price/Ellie Price (Ludlowe) def. Grace Althoff/Ava deCastro (Darien) 6-2, 6-3.