Preview: girls tennis
Published 1:02 am, Thursday, April 15, 2010
The Darien High School girls tennis team is looking to forward to a resurgent 2010. After getting knocked out of the first round of the last year's FCIAC playoffs by New Canaan, the Blue Wave is hoping to make the type of run in the league playoffs it did in the Class M tournament.
Darien, 9-6 in the FCIAC last season, finished in the final four at states.
"We can make another good run in states," senior tri-captain Alex Budd said. "We have some good new players and some strong returning players."
Budd will be a stabilizing force for Darien, replacing last year's No. 1 singles player, Annie Wilson, atop the Blue Wave lineup. Budd played part of last year at No. 2 singles before her season was cut short by a broken hand. The senior will have to rely on that experience when it comes to facing the caliber of competition some FCIAC teams possess.
"She's been playing a lot in the offseason," head coach Davin Gebauer said. "Playing No. 1 in the FCIACs is not easy, but she's a competitor."
Gebauer complimented Budd on her focus on the court, a part of her game the senior knows is vital to her success this season.
"I'm just going to keep working hard in practice and just not let anything get me down, and not get intimidated by any of the really good players," Budd said.
Wilson was not Darien's only loss from 2009. The Blue Wave lost nearly its entire doubles roster. Darien lost its top doubles tandem of Courtney Whiting and Lindsey Battey; as well as it No. 3 pairing of Lisa Gianandrea and Cat Steinman. The Blue Wave also lost half of its second doubles team in Kyle McCoy.
"We lost some key players obviously, so we have some positions to fill," Gebauer said.
Senior tri-captain Emily Hough will team up with Amanda Brodsky to fill the No. 1 doubles slot. The pair has never played with each other before, turning the start of the season into a trial run for the twosome.
"It might be unusual at first," Hough said. "We're both really good players and we can learn to work together and beat some really good teams."
While junior Lonneke Eenk Van Djik has a grasp on the No. 2 singles position, there is some competition to round out the lineup.
"That's going to be tough," Gebauer said of settling on a lineup. "We're pretty deep and I'm going to need the girls to compete. No. 4 singles is just as important as No. 1."
Junior Ellie Riegel and frosh Sarah Alptekin and Jenna Murray are competing with last year's No. 4 Sophie Doering for the spots 3 and 4. Doering, who finished 17-2 last year, has the inside track to one of those spots, but still has to prove it to her coach.
"Whether she can step up at 3, I don't know," Gebauer said. "She doesn't like to lose. She's competitive, she's steady."
Alptekin and Murray have impressed their coach, but the level of play in the FCIAC leaves Gebauer apprehensive about putting too much inexperience on the court.
"I'm excited to have them for the next four years," he said. "It's going to be interesting to see who I put in. ... The freshmen are good tennis players, but I'm a little worried about their inexperience."
Darien, which has already faced off against Brien McMahon, New Canaan and Westhill, will play Stamford at home on Monday at 4 p.m.