New Canaan tops Greenwich in battle of unbeatens
Published 7:06 pm, Wednesday, May 18, 2011
DARIEN -- Already oozing with anticipation, a change of venue sparked the regular season finale between two unbeatens with volumes of history.
Inclement weather forced the battle for the FCIAC inside, cramming the New Canaan and Greenwich girls tennis teams into Old Kings Highway Indoor Courts.
Zigzagging in between the occasional player, coach and spectator alike to sneak a peek at the action through two Plexiglas windows on either side of the structure, the close quarters understandably had everyone on edge.
And it showed.
A sweep in all three doubles pushed the Rams over the edge and sealed a 5-1 victory over the Cardinals, capping off a perfect 16-0 record and extending New Canaan's win streak to 43.
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"A lot of tension, a lot of pressure," New Canaan coach Gail Overbeck said. "If we were outside, we could have breathed a little. It's a big deal, it's rivalry."
Suffering the first loss of the season to the team that dethroned them in 2010, the Cardinals may have lost the first round, but they will likely have another shot in the upcoming FCIACs as well as states now that New Canaan moved up to Class L with them.
"The girls were very volatile and a lot of emotions flying out here, but you have to hand it to them," Greenwich coach Betsy Underhill said. "They were stronger than we were today. On any given day, can that change? Yes. I think we'll be hungry to play them again."
Courtney Gallagher got the ball rolling at No. 2 singles, beating Greenwich's Sam Stone 6-2, 7-6 (1) to remain undefeated for the season.
Her sister, Caitlin, also finished the season undefeated with her victory at the third singles spot, but not before her teammates Phoebe Wilkes and Kate Howard clinched the team win with a straight-set victory at No. 3 doubles.
Co-captain Kim Glerum and first-year partner Sara Greene were a set away from seeing their perfect run slip away, but the top tandem was visited by a Ram from their past and rebounded to beat Michelle Vogt and Anna Sweeney.
Alyssa Baker, Glerum's former doubles partner and member of the team that ended Greenwich's 83-match win streak, surprised Glerum when she came out for a water break.
"I took a lot from when I played with her to my game now," Glerum said. "It's a different feeling now, but winning either way, it's nice."
The Cardinals' lone point came from their top singles player, Jen DeLuca, who also finished the season with an unblemished record after her three-set marathon victory over Kate Mannelly (5-7, 6-2, 6-2).
Because of limited time, Jensen Lee's match with Greenwich's Audrey Villemure was called after the first set (which Lee won in a tiebreaker).
Scheduled to begin on Thursday, predicted weather and New Canaan's senior prom may push back the FCIAC playoffs and a possible second of three meetings between the two storied programs.
"This could be three times that we have to go through this," Overbeck said. "It's hard for both teams. The tension is palpable. You just do the best you can, and I'm glad we came out with the victory today."