It is tournament time for the Greenwich High School girls tennis team, which must take the experience it gained and the lessons it learned from the regular season, into the postseason.
So far, so good for the Cardinals, whose roster mostly features underclassmen.
Sixth-seeded Greenwich began action in the FCIAC Tournament by registering a 7-0 home victory over 11th-seeded Fairfield Warde. The Cardinals (11-6) advanced to the FCIAC quarterfinal-round, which is scheduled to be held on Wednesday.
The Cardinals, who defeated the Mustangs, 5-2, during the regular season, will play either New Canaan or Danbury in the FCIAC quarterfinals. Greenwich was edged by New Canaan, 4-3, on April 22. In the No. 1 singles match on Friday, Greenwich sophomore Ivanna Diez de Bonilla recorded a 6-1, 6-4 win against Warde junior Jessica Broder.
“It was very difficult today, because for the last three or four matches, there hasn’t been many wind,” Diez de Bonilla said. “This one every single time I tossed it, the ball would go everywhere.”
Should the Cardinals play third-seeded New Canaan in the quarterfinals, Diez de Bonilla is excited about the challenge of her match at first singles.
“I’m definitely looking forward to it, because last time I let the match get away too quickly. I didn’t focus in the first game, I didn’t get into it until the second set. So I have to stay focused from the first game.”
Greenwich’s No. 1 doubles team of senior Abby Shropshire and sophomore Julia Tamis completed their match first. They cruised to a 6-0, 6-0 victory against sophomore Gwen Kardos and junior Rachel Orlinick.
“It was a great day for FCIACs and I think that really helped us,” said Shropshire, a senior co-captain. “We devised a strategy early on that worked and we stuck to it. We wanted to keep the ball in and wait for them to make mistakes, because we both have good ground strokes.”
Shropshire is making certain that she enjoys the experience of her final postseason experience with the Cards.
“It’s exciting, but very sad, especially for me, because it’s my last postseason,” she said. “So every round may be my last match.”
The Cardinals’ No. 1 doubles duo has been on a roll of late.
“I’m definitely excited about how we are playing,” Tamis said. “We’re communicating with each other and waiting for our shots to hit a winner and not going crazy on every point. We need to stay motivated and I think we can make it far in FCIACs.”
In the most competitive match of the day, Greenwich junior co-captain Courteney Sheets outlasted Warde senior Samantha Mieczkowski, 7-5, 7-6 (14-12), at fourth singles.
“It was really tough, I stayed focused more, because she beat me the first time we played, 6-3, 6-1, so I was proud to have beaten her,” said Sheets, who displayed impressive ground strokes throughout the match. “I just to keep my focus. I was also under pressure too, it was hard, but I had to block out everything else that was going on. I tried to stay more consistent with my serve and I’m really happy with how it went.”
Freshman Malena Schraa also turned around her previous result against Warde. Schraa gave Greenwich an impressive 6-2, 6-1 win No. 3 singles.
“I’m so happy for our No. 3 and No. 4 singles,” Greenwich coach Julie Shropshire said. “The two of them lost last time, so to come back here and win a few weeks later – I think is going to be a nice morale booster for them. It shows how hard they are working and how their game has grown.”
At second singles, Cardinals freshman Kyra Dybas kept her successful season going, posting a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Ella Smith, a junior.
“Playing in the FCIAC Tournament, there is definitely more pressure, because if we lose a match, we’re done for FCIACs,” Dybas said. “But it’s definitely fun.”
Indeed, as is the case with the other underclassmen on the squad, Dybas has learned plenty in her first varsity season.
“I have learned how I play when I’m under pressure,” Dybas said. “I’ve learned to hit with more consistency and to finish points. The next round it’s going to be a really tough match and I’m excited.”
In the No. 2 doubles match, Greenwich freshman Emily Weinstein and senior Kira Popa produced another straight set win. Weinstein and Popa won their matchup, 6-3, 6-1.
“No. 2 doubles started strong and they stayed that way throughout the match,” Julie Shropshire said.
At No. 3, the sophomore tandem of Mei McGuinness/Valentina Rivano were 6-3, 6-0 winners.
“No. 3 doubles has been consistent during the season,” coach Shropshire said.
As for a quarterfinal-round match against New Canaan?
“I think we had a good shot last time around, it was very windy, so I’m curious about how we will do this time,” Shropshire said. “We lost 4-3, however two of the matches we lost in the third set, so anything can happen. The girls are working hard and we are excited, so it will be a good match.”