Greenwich and St. Joseph entered yesterday’s match tied in the FCIAC girls tennis standings with records of 8-5, so the victor would improve its all-important seeding for next week’s FCIAC Tournament.
Receiving two singles victories and sweeping the three doubles matches, the Cardinals earned their ninth win of the season, while bettering their position for the conference tournament.
Raising their record to 9-5, Greenwich registered a well-earned 5-2 home win over St. Joseph. At No. 1 doubles, senior co-captain Courteney Sheets and junior Julia Tamis were victorious for Greenwich against Nathalie Plavec/Kiera Donegan, 6-1, 6-2.
“Just being aggressive at the net and taking those high ones at the net and being consistent with our serves and groundstrokes helped us in this match,” Sheets said.
The Cardinals’ No. 1 doubles team has shown impressive chemistry throughout the season, which has enabled them to gain key victories.
“It’s really exciting playing with Courteney,” Tamis said. “We set each up really well at the net and that allows us to be more aggressive at net. Our volleys are our strength and we can take advantage of that.”
Said Sheets: “It works well, because she has a strong forehand and I have a strong backhand, so it works out. At first, it was more challenging for us, but we adjusted and our partnership has worked out really well. I think we’ve been able to handle the competition pretty well.”
“We have grown as a partnership and hopefully, that will show in states and FCIACs,” Tamis said.
Sophomore Lilly Foley gave Greenwich its first singles win against St. Joseph. Behind a strong serve and stellar groundstrokes, Foley recorded a 6-1, 6-0 triumph over St. Joseph’s Addison Chapman.
“The season lately has been going really good,” Foley said. “It was definitely a rough start, because I actually was out with COVID for a week, so I missed a bunch of matches. But right now, it’s been going really well and the team is doing so well.”
As she has done in the majority of her matches so far this season, Foley won the key break points and came out on top in points decided by long rallies.
“We were having some long rallies and we went to a couple of deuces,” Foley said. “I was being very consistent and since it was windy, I was able to work with the wind and adjust my shots to which direction the wind was going.”
Coached by Julie Shropshire, Greenwich received its second singles win against St. Joseph from Malena Schraa. A sophomore, Schraa notched a 6-3, 6-4 triumph over Devan Cavaliere at the No. 3 singles spot.
“Today, in the beginning of the match I felt really good and the first set went really well for me,” said Schraa, who started a freshman last season. “I was able to figure out early what I needed to do to win points. In the second set, it was a little bit of a harder time, but in the end I was able to pull it through.”
Indeed, the Cardinals singles lineup has depth.
“It’s basically the same lineup as last year, which works out really well, because we did really good,” Schraa said. “Now we have Lilly as our fourth player, which is great, because she is doing amazing.”
The freshman tandem of Yume Inagawa and Emme Pecorin were in sync once again. They took their matchup at No. 2 doubles against the Cadets, 6-3, 6-0.
“We played once in the beginning in the season and we won, so automatically knew we played well together,” Inagawa said. “It’s an easy bond with two new teammates and the fact that we’re freshmen.”
“It’s exciting to be two freshman playing together and playing against people who are sometimes older than you,” Pecorin added. “Today, we both communicated so well.”
As they did during Tuesday’s match, Inagawa and Pecorin have risen to the occasion when they’ve teamed up.
“The competition has been rough, some of the teams have been really tough and they really put the pressure on,” Inagawa said. “But if you put your mind to it you can do it.”
In the long, hard-fought No. 1 singles match, St. Joseph’s Hannah Haywood edged Greenwich junior Ivanna Diez de Bonilla in three sets, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6.
“Today was tough,” Diez de Bonilla said. “I’ve been having a difficult time against these singles 1 players, and after a certain amount of losses, it got difficult to keep a positive mentality and maintain confidence in my skill, but today was finally different. I played my game and I fought my hardest on the court. Even after losing the first set, I kept going and played a really good second set. And even though I lost my concentration in the third set, I didn’t give up even when she was up 6-5 and winning the game.”
Overall, it was a good match and it’s more about the process than the outcome, because at least I can learn a lot from this and improve for my next match,” Diez de Bonilla continued.
The No. 2 singles match was also decided in three sets. St. Joseph’s Katelyn Heslin pulled out a comeback 3-6, 6-3, 6-0 triumph over sophomore Kyra Dybas.
“I thought that everyone played really well and worked hard,” Dybas said. “It was a pretty good win overall for the team and my match was tough, as my opponent played pretty well.”
The Cards’ third doubles win came at No. 3, with juniors Mei McGuinness and Valentina Rivano excelling. McGuinness and Rivano were in top form in winning their match, 6-2, 6-2.
Up next for the Cardinals is a home match against Stamford tomorrow at 4:30 in a contest marking Senior Day for GHS.