After perfect season, Rams eager to defend championships
The New Canaan girls tennis team has a tough act to follow in 2011. That's because the 2010 Rams achieved a perfect record (17-0) and captured both the FCIAC and State Championships.
It was, by all accounts, a "perfect season."
"It was so exciting. It was our goal coming in, we worked hard for it, and everything came together at the end and we were able to beat Greenwich for the first time, at least since I've been on the team," senior captain and No. 1 singles player Kate Mannelly said.
"Ideally, we would like to replicate [last season], but that was the perfect season, so you can't go in expecting to have such a season like that," senior captain and No. 1 singles player Kimmy Glerum said. "But it's good to be coming off the energy of a year like that. We didn't lose that many players, so there's a good chance that we can duplicate that success."
New Canaan's march to perfection came at the expense of the many talented FCIAC who often took the Rams to the wire in 2010, but ultimately failed to derail the eventual undefeated champs.
With such an array of accomplishments last season, the girls know that they'll be a marked team in 2011, but several commented that they'll be looking forward to the challenge of holding off some of the perennially talented tennis squads.
"I feel like we still can keep it up," senior captain and No. 3 singles player Caitlin Gallagher said. "We always love to play Greenwich because they're our archrivals. Daniel Hand is another really good match, and then Darien of course."
"Greenwich is probably our biggest nemesis. Toppling them last year in both the season and in FCIACs was a huge feat, considering they had been undefeated for several years," Glerum said. "We like to play Daniel Hand. It's another very competitive match."
While tennis is one of the more individual sports, Mannelly said that one of the keys to New Canaan's sustained success has been the unwavering support that her teammates show one another.
"I think that's the best part about high school tennis is that you have the team with you, rather than just outside tournaments," Mannelly said. "During the match, you encourage your teammates, cheer them on and the support there is really nice to have. Everyone here is a team player and everyone likes to support each other."
Sixteenth year head coach Gail Overbeck, who has coached New Canaan to three undefeated seasons during her tenure, indicated that the varsity squad hasn't been finalized, but she has constructed a tentative lineup: Mannelly at first singles, Courtney Gallagher at second singles, Caitlin Gallagher at third singles, Jensen Lee at fourth singles, Glerum and Sara Greene at first doubles and Kristin Laub and Amanda Merjian at second doubles. The third doubles pairing is still open to competition.
"We've had some challenges, so the singles spots have changed a little bit. We've got two places to fill and five girls to pick from," Overbeck said. "We're going to try to repeat, but it's not easy with Greenwich always standing in the way. There are plenty of good schools but we'd like to win the division, FCIACs and state's."
So far, New Canaan is 2-0 with a pair of 7-0 wins over Norwalk and Fairfield Warde.