Darien cruises past Staples to win Class L girls tennis title
Published 9:14 pm, Friday, June 5, 2015
WILTON -- In the two meetings this season prior to Friday's Class L final, the Darien girls tennis team had won just one of six doubles matches against rival Staples.
The Blue Wave's tandems delivered in the biggest stage when it mattered, each earning straight-set wins in a stunning reversal to put an emphatic stamp on the season.
Darien made its case as the best team in Connecticut in defeating the Wreckers 4-0 for the school's first Class L title and first state title since capturing Class S in 2005.
"It feels so nice, it's my first state championship in any sport," said Darien senior Allegra Molkenthin. "To be a senior captain and have such an awesome team; this is a special group, we're a family and it was nice to see us pull through."
Darien avenged last year's state final defeat Thursday with a 4-3 win over Ludlowe in the semifinals, setting the stage for a dominant win over the Wreckers, who beat Darien 4-3 in the FCIAC semis on May 22.
"It still really hasn't sunk in yet, because Ludlowe has had our number the last couple of years, Staples too," Darien coach David Gebauer said. "We played them both right at the beginning of the season; when you're playing those kind of teams you'd rather play them at the end. We didn't lose faith and stayed strong."
Kateri Martin was the first to finish at No. 1 singles, earning a 6-0, 6-1 win over Vanessa Mauricio. Soon after, Darien seniors Pia Teschner and Erika Gill overcame Avery Wallace and Tess Rubin 6-3, 6-3 after dropping both of the previous meetings.
"They made a lot of unforced errors, but we also had a better strategy and game plan today," Teschner said. "We kept it strong, we were more confident. We really wanted to win this."
At No. 2 doubles, Darien's Catherine Hatfield and Anna Barsanti beat Megan Brown and Kristin Butler 6-3, 6-2 after losing 6-2, 6-3 in the FCIAC semifinals. The quick 3-0 advantage set the stage for the clinching match.
The crowd funneled to the center court area where Darien's Molkenthin and Susie Alptekin were locked in a battle with Hannah Bjorkman and Olivia Daytz. After winning the opening set 7-5, the second was tied at 5-5 before Molkenthin and Alptekin broke serve and served out the match.
"Fans sort of started coming over little by little, and I had a sneaking suspicion," Molkenthin said. "When everybody migrates over it gets a little intense; you can feel the tension on the court, it's palpable. But at the same time it helps a lot."
"Today was just one of those opposite days," Staples coach Paco Fabian said. "I thought our singles played great. I knew this match on both sides any day could go 6-1 or 7-0."
With a new-look lineup, the Wreckers ended their surprising season with a 21-3 record, reaching both the FCIAC and Class L final.
"We were just so happy to be here," Fabian said. "And we've celebrating the whole way because we lost five starters last year on a team that went to the state semifinals. Maybe that's part of the reason why we didn't play so well today."
The State Open is scheduled to begin Saturday. Martin is seeded No. 1 and is the defending singles champion, while Gill and Teschner are seeded No. 5.
Class L girls tennis final
DARIEN 4, STAPLES 0 (at Wilton): Singles: Kateri Martin (L) def. Vanessa Mauricio 6-0, 6-1; Doubles: Pia Teschner/Erika Gill (D) def. Avery Wallace/Tess Rubin 6-3, 6-3; Catherine Hatfield/Anna Barsanti (D) def. Megan Brown/Kristin Butler 6-3, 6-1; Allegra Molkenthin/Susie Alptekin (D) def. Hannah Bjorkman/Olivia Daytz 7-5, 7-5. Records: Darien 18-2, Staples 19-2.