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Fairfield Ludlowe girls tennis player Lindsey Evans posts breakout sophomore season

Published 4:52 pm, Thursday, June 13, 2013
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Fairfield Ludlowe girls tennis coach John Reisert couldn't wait for the day when Lindsey Evans would be his team's No. 1 singles player.

And in two years, Evans hasn't let Reisert down yet.

The rising junior has accrued a 38-11 record in two years as the Falcons' top-singles player. This year, Evans lost just three matches and was a big factor in Ludlowe winning the FCIAC championship and finishing second in the state's Class L.

"It exceeded expectations," Reisert said of Ludlowe's 2013 season. "I couldn't be happier with how we did, especially in the postseason."

Evans' record is remarkable for someone who has only been playing year-round for five years and whose parents are not tennis people.

"Neither of us play," her mom, Terri said, referencing her and her husband. "It's something that she from the very start had good hand-eye coordination and enjoyed it."

Since she entered to Ludlowe, Evans has been the Falcons' No. 1 singles player. During that two-season span, Ludlowe has a 39-7 team record -- a .848 winning percentage.

Although Evans lost eight matches as a freshman, Reisert believed the 5-8 player, whose game combines both power and finesse, would continue to grow.

"Lindsey came as a freshman as a very good player," he said. "Tournament-tested, certainly having to play the very best of the best, I was thrilled with the freshman year she had."

Evans capped her sophomore campaign by reaching the State Open singles semifinals, falling 6-1, 6-3 to eventual campion and four-time titlist Kimmy Guerin of Weston.

A year ago Evans lost to Guerin 6-0, 6-1 in the third round of the State Open. This year, the four games she won in the semis were the most Guerin has surrendered in a match.

"I went in knowing `it won't be a blowout, I'll most likely get beat, but I can go in and give my all,'" Evans said. "And I worked my strokes and started hitting some angles. I knew I couldn't grind it out with her, because she'll overpower me. So I just started mixing it up, and she started making mistakes."

Reisert saw his top-singles player progress between her freshman and sophomore meetings with Guerin.

"The improvement she's made from last year to this year has been superb," Reisert said. "Making the state semifinals as a sophomore and pushing the four-time state champion as hard as she'd been pushed all tournament ... I couldn't be happier."

Much of Evans' confidence can be traced back to her second varsity match this season. Just a day after beating Danbury's Gina Atanafoff 6-0, 6-0, Evans faced off against Wilton's Maddi Stow. Stow -- who would finish as the State Open's sixth-rated singles player -- coolly won the first set 6-2.

But Evans answered, winning the second set 7-5, then claiming the third 6-0. The sophomore never looked back finishing her regular season 14-2 -- including three wins over New Canaan's Jensen Lee.

"That match [against Stow] boosted my confidence so much," Evans said.

Evans' only two regular-season losses came to eventual state runnerup Anna Rogers of Westhill and to Newtown's Caroline Kelly, who finished No. 3 in the Open.

As she prepares to play USTA tournaments this summer, Evans plans to focus on her conditioning in three-set matches. "I've been playing matches where by the third set, I'm very tired, and that hurts me."

Based on Tennis Recruiting.net's widely-recognized USTA rankings, Evans currently ranks No. 6 in Connecticut in the rising-junior age group, and Reisert said the recent high school season helped her get there.

She's booked to play the sectional championships and New England regional hard court and clay court tournaments. She is focused on exacting some revenge there.

"There are a lot of people I've lost to that I know I can beat," Evans said. "My goal this summer is to just step it up and beat those people, even if it's down to the last point."

Then, before she even knows it, junior year will arrive, and Reisert expects Evans will have a target on her back next spring.

"Lindsey is going to be that player that other people are looking at, where they say `I'm going to have to find a way to get her,'" Reisert said. "Lindsey's going to have to get that mentality where `people are gunning for me now.' It's a different way of playing, it's sometimes easier being the underdog than the favorite.

"But that's the fun part of being successful, you ascend to that level."

As she ascends, her mom sees her goals coming to fruition.

"She definitely wants to play college tennis," Terri said. "With her performance, her school options are getting larger."

ppickens@bcnnew.com; twitter.com/Pat_Pickens

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