Darien edged by Staples, 4-3, for FCIAC girls tennis crown
After defeating Staples 5-2 in the regular season, the Darien Girls Tennis team lost to the Wreckers in the FCIAC championship final by a score of 4-3.
It was an echo of last year, when the Wave suffered its only loss of the regular season to their perennial rival, only to go on to beat them in the FCIAC finals.
“Last year we split the regular season and the FCIACs, too,” Coach Anne-Lise Brown said. “And this year we did the same.”
The Wave, which came into the championship game with an unbeaten record of 18-0, dropped all three doubles matches and one singles match. Darien had won the FCIAC championship for the past two years.
“We need to shake it off,” Brown said. “It’s the first time we have lost in a long time, so I don’t want the team to dwell on it.”
The match, played at Wilton High School on Wednesday afternoon, was scheduled as a doubleheader with the FCIAC boys’ tennis championship game between Staples and Greenwich.
As the girls’ teams began to play, the boys were still completing two very competitive matches.
The result was a very raucous atmosphere, with the girls playing on side-by-side courts with the boys, to the loud cheers of their fans and teammates.
Staples ended up winning the boys championship, and many of their players stayed to watch the Staples girls’ team, creating a home court-like atmosphere for Staples despite the neutral location.
“The boys stayed and cheered,” Brown said. “They had just won, so there was a huge energy from them that the girls felt on the court.”
Darien was particularly hard hit at doubles, where at No. 1 doubles, Emily Neuner and Juliet Homes lost to Staples’ Kristin Butler and Hannah Bjorkman 6-0, 6-3.
At doubles No. 2, Darien’s Quin Wolters and Elaina Cummiskey fell to Staples’ Gabriela Vega and Olivia Gordy 6-4, 6-4. And at No. 3 doubles, Darien’s Caroline Holmes and Daniela Castellanos lost to Staples’ Lily Smith and Natalie Carozza 6-4, 7-5.
“At No. 1 doubles, we knew it was going to be a tough match,” Brown said. “At number 2 and 3, nerves definitely came into play; it was hard with the pressure of the boys still playing on the court.”
Darien fared better at singles, with No. 1 Lilly Ma defeating Alyssa DiMaio 6-4, 6-2.
Freshmen twins Kate and Emily Wiley once again came through for the Wave, with Emily defeating Carine Geijerstam 6-4, 6-1 at No. 3 singles, and Katie defeating Alisyn Kercher 6-4, 6-1 at No. 4 singles.
Darien’s only loss at singles was at No. 2, where Emilia Callery fell to Staples’ Olivia Foster after a hard fought second set 6-3, 7-5.
Darien now looks to move on to the state championship, which begins this Saturday, May 26.
Brown said that the loss at FCIACs only makes her team stronger.
“We take joy from winning, but we learn from defeat and move on” she said. “It’s a good experience coming into States.”
FCIAC Girls Tennis Final - Staples 4, Darien 3
Wed., May 23, at Wilton HS
Lilly Ma (D) def. Alyssa DiMaio 6-4, 6-2
Olivia Foster (S) def. Emilia Callery 6-3, 7-5
Emily Wiley (D) def. Carine Geijerstam 6-4, 6-1
Katie Wiley (D) def. Alisyn Kercher 6-4, 6-1
Kristin Butler and Hannah Bjorkman (S) def. Emily Neuner and Juliet Homes 6-0, 6-3
Gabriela Vega and Olivia Gordy (S) def. Elaina Cummiskey and Quin Wolters 6-4, 6-4
Lily Smith and Natalie Carozza (S) def. Caroline Homes and Daniela Castellanos 6-4, 7-5
Team Records: Darien 18-1, Staples 18-1