Undefeated Greenwich tennis team slips past Darien
GREENWICH -- Having rolled over their previous 13 opponents, the Greenwich High girls tennis team was in need of a challenge, and Darien was more than happy top oblige.
The Blue Wave gave the Cardinals everything they had, but in the end it just wasn't enough as GHS pulled out a 4-3 win to remain undefeated on the season with two matches left to play.
According to Greenwich (14-0) coach Betsy Underhill a tight match was the best thing for her team at this point in the season.
"This was very good for us to be pushed because for a while we were just rolling along and became a little complacent," Underhill said. "I think this will refocus them heading into the last few matches of the regular season. It's scary to be pushed like we were today, but in the end I think it's a good thing for us."
Darien (9-4) left with no regrets.
"I'm extremely proud of my team," Darien coach Davin Gebauer said. "Greenwich is a tough team and they played some of their best tennis of the year against them. We were one match away from pulling a huge upset so I'm very pleased with how they competed."
The Cardinals split their singles matches with Darien as No.1 Jenn DeLuca defeated Lonneke Eennkama Van Dijk by a 6-0, 6-3 count while freshman Hannah Kratky stepped into the No. 4 spot and came up with a clutch 6-1, 6-3 victory over Darien's Sara Alptekin.
"Hannah has done great in both doubles and singles this season and is only going to get better with time," Underhill said. "There were two players ahead of her that couldn't play today and she stepped up big time for us. To come into a match like this and play with such poise really shows a great deal of maturity for a freshman."
For Kratky it was all about thinking positively and taking advantage of the opportunity.
"I knew it would be tough stepping into four singles but if I was going to be successful I needed to go into my match with a positive attitude," Kratky said. "I don't usually play four singles so the real challenge was getting in the right mindset to compete and being prepared for anything. But at the end of the day I think I played one of my better matches."
With Darien's Jenna Murray topping Sam Stone 6-1, 6-4 at No. 2 and Greenwich's Danielle Cepelewicz falling in at No. 3 action to Sophie Doering 6-3, 6-3, the Blue Wave had evened the score at 2-2 with all three doubles left to settle the score.
"I was very happy with how Jenna Murray and Sophie Doering performed at two and three singles," said Gebauer, noting that Doering is 12-0 on the season. "That was probably Jenna's best match of the season and Sophie has is as mentally tough as they come. Both those players combined with our second doubles team of Ellie Riegel and Kate Morant really stepped up for us today."
Despite Darien's No. 2 doubles team of Ellie Reigel and Kate Morant defeating Katey Hopper and Lauren Daccache 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 the Cardinals secured the match with straight set victories by the No. 1 team of Anna Sweeney and Michelle Vogt along with the No. 3 tandem of Jordana Cepelewicz and Marissa Graham.
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"I think it's great to be playing more challenging matches because that's where our true ability is tested and comes to the surface," Jordana Cepelewicz said. "We know we have two difficult matches to end the season with and we're all very excited for those challenges that lie ahead."
Those matches will both be on the road as GHS travels to Westhill Thursday for a 4 p.m. scheduled start time and next Tuesday when they wrap up their regular season with a trip to rival New Canaan. With both teams currently undefeated Underhill could think of no better way to conclude what has already been a memorable regular season in the FCIAC.
"I think it would be nice to have two undefeated teams going up against one another in the final match of the season," Underhill said. "With the rivalry that exists between both programs you can't ask for a more dramatic conclusion. One thing you can expect is great tennis across the board and two teams that will bring equally high amounts of adrenaline to the court."
And the Cardinals are confident that as the stakes rise so will their level of play.
"We have fun when we compete but we also give 110 percent no matter who we play," Cepelewicz said. "New Canaan is a great team and there is always a heightened level of competition when we play one another. But those are the type of matches that tend to bring out the best us."