WILTON — Stroke for stroke, very little separated Darien’s Kateri Martin and Staples’ Alyssa DiMaio as the two went head-to-head with an FCIAC championship on the line.

In the end, though, Martin, a senior, had one thing DiMaio, a freshman, didn’t have on her side.

Experience.

Martin used that experience to dig deep and pull out a thrilling 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 win over DiMaio, clinching Darien’s 4-3 victory over Staples for the league championship.

It was the second straight championship for the Blue Wave.

“I guess really what helped me grind out the third set was my teammates,” Martin said. “I’ve been here four years and I just put them above myself. I wanted to do it for them. When you have so many people counting on you, that helps you fight through. Alyssa hasn’t had that much experience with that kind of pressure yet, but she’ll get it.”

During Staples’ 4-3 regular-season win, Martin coasted to a two-set win over DiMaio.

This time around, the freshman proved it would be a slightly different match, taking the first set 5-7.

As the two kept battling through their match, Darien took a 3-1 lead courtesy of two singles and a win at second doubles.

The Wreckers answered with wins at first and third doubles to tie the match, however.

That put all eyes on the two best players for each team for all the marbles.

“I’m honored it was down to me,” Martin said. “After leading this team as a captain this year, I guess it was fate that it wound up in my hands for the title.”

Martin was leading 4-3 in the third set when DiMaio had a double break point. The Wreckers’ ace was unable to pull out the game, though, as Martin bounced back to take a 5-3 lead.

“I think experience was a huge factor,” said Anne-Lise Brown. “That was a huge pressure match and Staples’ (player) was only a freshman. Alyssa played a great match, but Kateri has been there for four years and she could just keep the focus and stay cool under pressure and get us the win”

DOUBLES TROUBLE

The difference from the regular-season matchup between the Blue Wave and the Wreckers came down to the No. 2 doubles match.

Staples hadn’t lost any doubles matches at all this season, but on Tuesday the Blue Wave team of Susie Alptekin and Elaina Cummiskey pulled out a 6-3, 7-5 win.

The Wreckers were up 5-4 in the second set, but couldn’t close out the match. Instead, Darien rattled off three straight games to take the point.

“We just kind of talked to each other and realized we needed to start playing our game,” said Alptekin, a senior. “No matter what they threw at us, no matter what they did, we had to play our game and not let them affect us.”

The win by the Wave duo avenged their only regular-season loss, a three-set loss to the Wreckers.

A STRONG START

Darien got out of the gate with the first win of the day as Emilia Callery coasted to a 6-1, 6-0 win over Tess Rubin at third singles.

The Wreckers would get even as Vanessa Mauricio took a 6-1, 6-2 win over fourth singles to even things up, but Darien responded with a win at second singles when Lilly Ma topped Olivia Foster 6-4, 6-2 to take a 2-1 lead.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE

“We got to see the fun part of high school tennis,” said Staples coach Paco Fabian. “In USTA, you’re out there by yourself and nobody is our there cheering for you or against you. But this is the FCIAC and it’s like college tennis, and this was a fun experience for the girls.”

jnash@hearstmediact.com

DARIEN 4, STAPLES 3

Singles: Kateri Martin (D) def. Alyssa DiMaio (S) 5-7, 6-3, 6-3; Lilly Ma (D) def. Olivia Foster 6-4, 6-2; Emilia Callery (D) def. Tess Rubin 6-1, 6-0; Vanessa Mauricio (S) def. Emily Neuner 6-1, 6-2. Doubles: Megan Brown-Kristin Butler (S) def. Mia Dursht-Daphne Gray 6-2, 4-6, 6-2; Susie Alptekin-Elaina Cummiskey (D) def. Gabriela Vega-Hannah Bjorkman 6-3, 7-5; Lily Smith-Olivia Gundy (S) def. Quin Wolters-Juliet Homes 2-6, 6-4, 6-2. Records: Darien 18-1; Staples 21-1.