GIRLS TENNIS

Kateri Martin jumped through the hoops of her own humanity to prevail on the center court.

Kateri pulled it out for us in the end. It was very suitable for her in her senior year.

— Anne-Lise Brown

“I struggled through the first set a little bit,” said Martin, who finished up winning two straight sets, with a hot hand and stone cold nerves, in leading Darien to the FCIAC title, 4-3 over Staples at Wilton on Tuesday. “I mean, I struggled a lot. But I just held tough, I guess.”

She guessed right.

Watch the video Groundhog Day Wave featured on this site, and see the final moments play out

Martin fittingly decided it, the last girl left standing, opposite Alyssa DiMaio who took the first set 7-5.

“I wasn’t playing my best, so I couldn’t really hit out that much on the girl,” said Martin, who went home with the FCIAC Championship MVP plaque. “I was missing a lot. So I just decided to play consistent; make her have to hit more balls than I did.”

She gathered strength and closed out with relentless — some staggering — returns for 6-3, 6-3 wins to clinch it before being mobbed by teammates on the lonely only occupied court when it was all through.

“There was no given out there, it always came down to the wire,” said Darien coach Anne-Lise Brown. “And Kateri pulled it out for us in the end. It was very suitable for her in her senior year.”

“It wasn’t the type of match I wanted to play,” Martin said. “But (it was) the type of match I had to play.”

In the third set, Martin leapt out to a 4-1 lead, sliced to a slimmer margin by DiMaio breaking and holding, bringing it to 4-3.

“But then the crowds congregated at the court and the pressure was on,” said Brown. “Kateri held to make it 5-3 and then, under intense pressure, freshman DiMaio served for the set, but was worn down by her more seasoned senior opponent and Martin broke to win the match 6-3 in the third.”

“I was a little tight,” added Martin. “So I just had to wear her down.”

“Kateri sealed the FCIAC title for Darien in a fantastic third set win,” said Brown.

Darien had suffered its first loss — its only loss — of the season 4-3 to Staples on May 6.

The Wave’s sole undefeated player this season is sophomore Lilly Ma, who beat Olivia Foster 6-4, 6-2, and looked balletic as she delivered the beating at No. 2.

“Finally a repeat result,” said Brown, harkening back to the regular season match vs. the Wreckers. “Lilly Ma came off with another win in straight sets.” 

At No. 3 it was Emilia Callery downright downing Tess Rubin 6-1, 6-0.

Emilia totally revamped her game and tactics to really keep her opponent off the net.

— Anna-Lise Brown

“First off with a win for Darien was Emilia Callery, avenging her previous loss, this time winning handily at 6-1, 6-0,” said Brown. “Emilia totally revamped her game and tactics to really keep her opponent off the net. Emilia's defensive play was absolutely outstanding as well.”

Losing for the first time this season was Emily Neuner at No. 4, where Vanessa Mauricio got by her 6-1, 6-2.

“While Emily had pulled off a stunning win during the regular season, this match saw Staples' Vanessa Mauricio win in straight sets,” said Brown.

Mia Dursht and Daphne Gray were locked in a death match it seemed at one doubles, with no let up on their part. But it went the other way 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.

“With just one singles and one doubles left to play it out in third sets, the crowd grew boisterous,” said Brown. “Mia Dursht and Daphne Gray, put up a good fight. Excellent teamwork, led by senior Dursht with excellent communication throughout.”

Megan Brown and Kristin Butler won the match.

Clutch twins of the afternoon pressure cooker match: senior Susie Alptekin and freshman Elaina Cummiskey in beating Gabriela Vega and Hannah Bjorkman 6-3, 7-5.

“Veteran senior Susie Alptekin and partner, Elaina Cummiskey delivered a key win,” Brown said. “Having lost in three sets during the season, this day saw them take the first set 6-3 and then dig deep to come from behind in the second to win 7-5.

“It was the first loss for any Staples doubles team this entire season,” Brown said.

Lily Smith and Olivia Gundy defeated Quinn Wolters and Juliet Homes 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 at No. 3 doubles.