After defeating Ridgefield in the qualifying round and eliminating No. 1-seeded Glastonbury in the opening round, the Greenwich High School girls tennis team came close to advancing to the semifinal-round of the CIAC Class LL Tournament.
Yet eighth-seeded host Fairfield Ludlowe held on for a hard-fought 4-3 win over 16th-seeded Greenwich in the quarterfinal-round of the Class LL Tournament. The Falcons advanced to face fifth-seeded Staples the tournament’s semifinals on Friday. The Cardinals finished their season with a record of 11-8.
“Watching our team play, it is such a big difference from where we were two months ago,” Greenwich coach Julie Shropshire said. “For sure, they are so much better now, all of them, I’m so excited for next year, it is going to be a really strong team.”
The Cardinals won three of the four singles matches, while the Falcons swept the three doubles matches – two of which went to three sets – to pull out the victory. In the No. 1 singles matchup, Greenwich sophomore Ivanna Diez de Bonilla capped a strong season by posting a 6-1, 6-0 win against Mae Kellersman, a sophomore. Diez de Bonilla lost to Kellersman during the regular season, but was consistent throughout Tuesday’s quarterfinals.
“Ivanna knew who she was playing against and she knew what she had to do,” Shropshire said. “She played her game. She was very aggressive, came to the net and she put the balls away.”
Kyra Dybas, a freshman, also turned around a previous result against Fairfield Ludlowe in the No. 2 singles match. Dybas was a 6-1, 6-3 winner against Ludlowe sophomore Siya Bajaj.
“Kyra she played very aggressive and she played her game,” Shropshire said. “She made very few errors.”
Like Dybas, Malena Schraa concluded her impressive freshman season for the Cardinals. Schraa won in straight sets against Falcons senior McKenna Carroll, 6-4, 6-2, at the No. 3 singles spot.
“Malena had a solid win and has such a strong game,” Shropshire said. “She overpowers a lot of her opponents. Every match, she is so positive on the court. She always looks so happy.”
Ludlowe’s win in singles competition came from senior Kate Alianiello, who registered a 6-2, 6-1 triumph against Greenwich junior co-captain Courteney Sheets at the No. 4 spot. Greenwich’s No. 1 doubles team of senior co-captain Abby Shropshire and sophomore Julia Tamis were edged by Ludlowe senior Julia Pida and junior Julia Tamis, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.
The match was the final one for Abby Shropshire, who was a mainstay on the Cardinals for four successful seasons. At second doubles, Ludlowe’s Ava Golden/Ellie Price were victorious against senior Greenwich’s Kira Popa and freshman Emily Weinstein, 6-2, 6-4.
In the No. 3 doubles match, Ludlowe posted another three-set win, as seniors Lauren Iannazzo/Colleen Cooke edged Cardinals sophomores Valentina Rivano/Mei McGuiness.
“I’m very proud of our team,” Julie Shropshire said. “The FCIAC and state tournaments have been good lessons for our girls. This is such a great group of girls and so many will be with me for the next two years. They have grown so much as players and I’m excited for the future of this team.”