Darien girls tennis team aims to compete with FCIAC elite
The Darien girls tennis team will have to hit the ground running at the start of its 2013 campaign.
That's because the Blue Wave's first match is Wednesday on the road against perennial FCIAC powerhouse Greenwich. It's a daunting task for a season-opening clash, but Darien captain and top singles player Jenna Murray sounded as if she wouldn't have it any other way.
"I'm really excited because I know a few of the girls on the team. It'll be fun and this is a lot of our girls' first match. It'll be a nice opening," Murray said. "I think hopefully we'll be better than (12-4) because I think we're probably one of the stronger teams this year."
Darien is just a season removed from a 12-4 record, which was good enough for an appearance in the FCIAC and Class L state tournaments. And after graduating only a single player, Abby Becker, optimism is high that the Blue Wave can take that next step and become a serious player for the FCIAC crown.
"I think we have a really good team this year," captain and top doubles player Sarah Alptekin said. "We have a lot of people coming back to their same spot, which I think is good because it's just improving in the same position. I think that our doubles have to be really solid, we have to be compatible."
With his team in its final practice on Tuesday before the start of the season on Wednesday, coach Davin Gebauer had the majority of his starting lineup in place, but indicated that he could still go in a number of directions prior to the start of the match.
"I'm still trying to figure out some doubles players. We have a lot of players that are very similar. I think if they all step up a little bit, I think we can do okay," Gebauer said. "It's my job to figure out where I can put these guys. I've got some injuries, I've got some sickness, I've got people traveling, so I'm still trying to figure out the best teamwork and the best doubles partners."
For now, Gebauer's first and second singles players should be Murray and Pia Teschner, with Katie Lashendock playing fourth singles. Erika Gill likely would have opened the season as the third singles player, but she is in China for three weeks. Allegra Molkenthin and Haley Close are candidates to take over for Gill.
"In some ways, we're better than we were in years in the past," Gebauer said. "I think it's possible. 12-4 is our goal. If the cards are right, I think we can do a little better than that, but we're going to have to pick it up."
While the Wave only graduated Becker, they remain a decidedly young team as Murray and Alptekin are the only two seniors.