Darien upsets Ludlowe in Class L girls tennis semifinal
Published 7:31 pm, Thursday, June 4, 2015
FAIRFIELD -- Darien's top singles player, Kateri Martin, has a little yellow smiley-faced symbol on her racquet. But don't let the cute little icon fool you. Behind that fun facade is one ruthless player.
Martin rallied from a 5-3 first set deficit to win a huge match at No. 1 singles and the Blue Wave's three doubles teams all proved victorious, the third and last team winning a second set tiebreaker, to give Darien a stunning 4-3 upset over previously undefeated and defending state champion Ludlowe on Thursday afternoon at the Ludlowe courts.
"It's just the way the ball bounces. The last four matches with Ludlowe have come down to one match," Darien coach Davin Gebauer said. "That's what it comes down to. That's (Ludlowe) a great, great team over there. His singles lineup is one of the best in the states, so we knew that it was going to come down to one match."
And that match was the third and final doubles match between Ludlowe's Ana Wyckoff and Maddie Leverty against Allega Molkenthin and Susie Alptekin. After a 6-3 Darien first set win, it seemed that the Falcons would rally and take the second set, leading 5-4. But the Blue Wave sent matters into a tiebreaker and won it, sending Darien into today's Class L finals against Staples at 3 p.m. at Wilton.
"This is so awesome. Definitely one of the best things that's happened for us this season," Martin said. "We've come together after a rocky start and I'm so proud of everyone."
For Ludlowe, the loss ends an amazing season one win shy of a second straight Class L title. But the Falcons can look back on three straight FCIAC titles and one state crown, one CIAC runner-up and one Class L semifinal appearance over the past three years. A heck of a run.
"It is a great run," Ludlowe coach John Riesert said. "For the seniors that have been with the program for a long time, they're leaving with the best memories and best ever records. I couldn't be prouder with what they've done."
It was Martin -- who teams with Evans in many USTA doubles tournaments -- that got the better of her friend on this day, battling back from a 5-3 first set deficit to win a first set tiebreaker and then hold off a charging Evans in the second set to win 7-6 (1), 6-3. The two, who are seeded first and second, respectively in the upcoming State Open singles bracket, will likely play again for the Open title.
"Closing out sets against Kateri is so hard because she's so good and she gets to every ball," Evans said. "And it happened again today. I had chances to make it close. I have to close out my points, which I couldn't do today."
From 5-3 down in the first set, Martin won three of the next four games to send it to a tiebreaker and then rolled, winning seven of the eight points.
"I was trying to take control of the pace of the match a little bit. She had me going in the beginning, so I just worked on making more shots, being more consistent because she was playing a pretty fast game," Martin said. "She's likes to do that so I wasn't too surprised. I knew I had to adjust."
Martin took a 4-1 lead in the second set before Evans rallied to make it 4-3 but Martin took the last two games and the match.
"It's so hard to play against her," Martin said. "It's definitely emotional. We both want the best for each other. It's tough."
Cami Adajian at No.2 singles, Gabby Gabel at No. 3 and Kyra Adajian at No. 4 all won for Ludlowe but it was the Darien doubles teams of Pia Teschner and Erika Gill at No. 1 and Catherine Hatfield and Anna Barsanti at No. 2 that posted victories and set the stage for that final doubles match.
"They really stepped up," Gebauer said of Molkenthin and Alptekin. "They've played together for about 10 matches now and they played last year at three. This is great, great win for us."
Class L semifinals
Darien 4, Ludlowe 3 (at Ludlowe): Singles: No. 1 Kateri Marin (D) Lindsey Evans 7-6 (1), 6-3; No. 2 Cami Adajian (L) def. Mia Dursht 6-4, 6-4; Gabby Gabel (L) def. Emilla Callery 6-4, 3-6, 6-4; Kyra Adajian (L) def. Emily Neuner 6-1, 6-1. Doubles: No. 1 Pia Teschner-Erika Gill (D) def. Lexi Brown-Lauren Hilliker 6-1, 6-1; No. 2 Catherine Hatfield-Anna Barsanti (D) def. Sarah Jennings-Julia Cheung 6-2, 6-3; No. 3 Allega Molkenthin-Susie Alptekin (D) def. Ana Wyckoff-Maddie Leverty 6-3, 7-6 (4). Records: Ludlowe 22-1, Darien 18-2.