Darien girls tennis team blanks Ludlowe
FAIRFIELD — For the past three seasons, Ludlowe and Darien have battled for supremacy in regional girls tennis with the Falcons holding the edge in the trophy case.
Ludlowe has won three straight FCIAC crowns and was Class L champion in 2014, knocking off the Blue Wave for the state title — while Darien turned the tables last season, eliminating the Falcons in the semifinals en route to the CIAC championship.
But Ludlowe’s three-peat FCIAC run could be in jeopardy after graduation took three of coach John Reisert’s top singles players and the fourth was lost to private school. Not only that, but Reisert lost a number of doubles players.
To put it bluntly, the Falcons are rebuilding.
Darien, however, is riding on the shoulders of junior Kateri Martin, the two-time defending State Open champion. The Blue Wave took on Ludlowe in an early-season showdown and showed who was the team to beat in the FCIAC with a dominating 7-0 victory Friday.
“There was a lot of consistency today. We’re fortunate, we have a very deep team and a lot of very experienced players,” Darien coach Anne-Lise Brown said. “We only have two seniors so it looks good moving forward as well. We’re off to a good start.”
Martin, playing at No. 1, rolled past Xenia Efimov 6-0, 6-0 to get things going for the Blue Wave. Efimov, a freshman, playing in just her second varsity match, played well in bursts but was no match for the two-time defending state champ.
“I kind of went into the match thinking I had nothing to lose. I knew that she was very strong, very experienced and I knew that she had an answer to a lot of things,” Efimov said. “So I went out there, tried some new things of my own and played my best.”
Darien’s experience continued to show throughout the rest of the singles as No. 2 Lilly Ma defeated Alissa Sangiuolo 6-1, 6-2, No. 3 Emilia Callery defeated Lauren Hand 6-2, 6-1 and No. 4 Julia Tong got past Kristen Chen 6-2, 6-2.
In doubles, Darien’s Amy Barsanti and Mia Dursht won 6-2, 6-0 over Gabby Gulian and Maddie Leverty, Susie Alptekin and Daphne Gray defeated Sam Keane and Grace Klouman 6-1, 6-1 and Quin Wolters and Juliet Homes won over Katherine Luttermann and Ashley Hayes 6-2, 6-2.
“I was hoping to piggy back things off of our first match (a 4-3 win over Ridgefield). That win let us climb up the ladder a little and today we went against the top rung,” Reisert said. “Darien is, without a doubt, a tremendous team. They return a lot and I told the team before the match this was a chance to go out there and face, across the board, most likely the strongest opponent we’ll face this season.”
After winning three straight FCIAC crowns and getting to at least the Class L semifinals three straight years, Ludlowe knows that it has a target on its back. And on Friday, Darien took straight aim.
“We’ve had a good rivalry and a lot of good matches,” Brown said. “We may have come out on top but there’s been a lot of good matches. They’ve got a lot of good-looking players on the younger side, so I see some strong development happening here.”
DARIEN 7, LUDLOWE 0
Singles: Kateri Martin (D) def. Xenia Efimov 6-0, 6-0; Lilly Ma (D) def. Alissa Sangiuolo 6-1, 6-2; Emilia Callery (D) def. Lauren Hand 6-2, 6-1; Julia Tong (D) def. Kristen Chen 6-2, 6-2. Doubles: Amy Barsanti/Mia Dursht (D) def. Gabby Gulian/Maddie Leverty 6-2, 6-0; Susie Alptekin/Daphne Gray (D) def. Sam Keane/Grace Klouman 6-1, 6-1; Quin Wolters/Juliet Homes (D) def. Katherine Luttermann/Ashley Hayes 6-2, 6-2. Records: Darien (2-0), Ludlowe (1-1)