GIRLS TENNIS Wave fend off Vikings
STAMFORD — The Westhill High School girls tennis team continues to make its case to be part of the conversation this FCIAC and state postseason.
However, the Darien High School girls tennis team maintained its lead atop the FCIAC East Division with a hard-fought 5-2 triumph over Westhill Monday at the Vikings’ tennis complex.
“We did not take this match lightly. Westhill beating Greenwich (4-3 back on April 25) got everybody’s attention,” said Darien coach Anne-Lise Brown. “Westhill is a strong team and they brought the best out of us.”
Darien (13-1 FCIAC) swept the three doubles matches and had to capture a pair of three-set wins in singles to secure Monday’s triumph.
Darien freshman Cameron Cavanna outfought Westhill sophomore Jacqueline Kaba, 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 at No. 4 singles to put the Blue Wave ahead for good.
“I just kept a good mentality in the third set. I tried to be consistent,” Cavanna said. “Jackie (Kaba) and I have played a number of close matches over the years. The team is very supportive of each other. I’m proud I could do my part.”
With two matches left in the regular season (St. Joseph, Norwalk), Darien is challenging West Division leader Staples (14-0) for the No. 1 playoff seed in the upcoming FCIAC playoffs.
“It’s been a good season thus far. There has been very nice bonding in our group. Senior tri-captains Juliet Homes (No. 1 doubles) and Quin Wolters (No. 2 doubles) have been great leaders welcoming newcomers into the team. The FCIAC playoffs are always a battle. And this year isn’t any different.”
At No. 1 singles, Darien sophomore Emily Wiley rallied for a three-set win.
WESTHILL STEPPING UP
Westhill (10-4) currently holds second place in the FCIAC West over Greenwich (10-4) via tiebreaker. The Vikings have road matches at Ridgefield and at New Canaan to close the regular season.
Westhill fought hard Monday even with three players arriving a little late after taking three-hour AP tests.
Freshman Martina Kaba (No. 2 singles) and junior Sanjana Nayak (No. 3 singles) won in straight sets Monday.
“This is our strongest team in my nine-year tenure as coach,” Westhill coach Erica Brunner said. “The girls felt they had a chance today. They fought so hard. Darien showed us why they only have one loss (4-3 to unbeaten Staples) this season.”
Playing and practicing for the entire season on the new purple courts at Westhill High has made a huge difference.
“Having a true home court means the world to us. After playing at Cummings Park and Cove Island last season,” Brunner said. “There are no seniors on this squad so we are looking at things in terms of this season and next season.”
The Vikings want to move forward this postseason.
“We lost to Darien in the first round of the FCIACs last year. We lost to Greenwich in the second round of the team states,” Brunner recounted. “This year we can go further. We’ve even qualified our No. 1 and No. 2 singles (Tamar Bellete, Martina Kaba) for the individual state tournament for the first time in our history.”
Westhill is counting the days before it embraces all those challenges.
DARIEN 5, WESTHILL 2
At Westhill. Singles: Emily Wiley (D) def. Tamar Bellete, 2-6, 6-4, 6-0; Martina Kaba (W) def. Katherine Wiley, 6-2, 6-2; Sanjana Nayak (W) def. Abigail Stravato, 6-3, 7-5; Cameron Cavanna (D) def. Jacqueline Kaba, 6-2, 1-6, 6-4. Doubles: Juliet Homes/Elaina Cumminskey (D) def. Caitlyn Tyrrell/Malina Lasicki, 6-0, 6-0; Quin Wolters/Caroline Hojsgaard (D) def. Lexi Schultz/Amanda Smeriglio, 6-1, 6-0; Caroline Homes/Daniela Castellanos (D) def. Danya Taub/Alexa Smeriglio, 6-2, 6-0. Records: Darien 13-1, Westhill 10-4.