New Canaan defends FCIAC Championship with win over Greenwich
WILTON -- The top-seeded New Canaan Rams capped off an undefeated 2011 campaign by knocking off the No. 2 seeded Greenwich Cardinals by a score of 5-2 in the FCIAC Championship match at Wilton High School on Wednesday. Widely viewed as the two best tennis teams in the FCIAC, the Rams got the better of the Cardinals for the second time in as many matches in 2011.
New Canaan "got on the board" first, as No. 4 singles player Jensen Lee took care of Greenwich's Audrey Villemure by a score of 6-0, 6-4.
"Winning this two years in a row is just the most phenomenal feeling," Lee said. "Being undefeated, once I got on the court, my heart was pounding a little bit. But, after the first game, I said I didn't care if we're undefeated. I just wanted to play my best and win it for the team."
At third singles, New Canaan's Caitlin Gallagher took control of her match against Danielle Cepelewicz in the second set, claiming a 6-4, 6-0 win to give the Rams a 2-1 lead.
However, Greenwich would pull even yet again at 2-2 when its top doubles tandem of Michelle Vogt and Anna Sweeney bounced back from losing the first set to claim a 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 win in one of the afternoon's most competitive matches.
At second singles, New Canaan's Courtney Gallagher was a bit under the weather, but she fought back from a 3-0 first set deficit to claim a critical 6-4, 6-2 victory to put the Rams back on top 3-2.
Wilks and Howard each indicated that they attempted to stay focused on their own match, rather than worry about the results of the matches which had concluded.
"The third set was really close. We were neck and neck for the beginning part of it," Wilkes said. "We didn't actually know that we were the match that was going to close it out. We knew all the doubles had split, but we didn't know that it was 3-2 [overall]."
"We got more aggressive at the net. Phoebe would tell me to come in and I listened to her," Howard said. "At 3-3 [in the third set] we just said we're going for this."
Although the FCIAC Championship had already been clinched, New Canaan's second doubles team of Amanda Merjian and Kristin Laub put an exclamation mark on the day by claiming a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Greenwich's Katey Hopper and Lauren Daccache.
New Canaan's unbeaten streak, which spans back to the beginning of last season, will be put to the test yet again during the state tournament.
"That was the best match that Jensen played all year. She just never made errors, she was solid, footwork was good and she focused. I was so happy to see that," New Canaan coach Gail Overbeck said. "Caitlin just kept the ball in play, she's steady as a rock and that's just the way she plays. She drives people a little crazy. Courtney was down 3-0 and wasn't feeling all that great. She pulled it out in two sets, so that was great."