After winning the FCIAC championship for the first time since 2009, the Greenwich girls tennis team took the holiday weekend to rest and celebrate its 12th league title.
But the Cardinals' quest for hardware is far from over and as they hosted Masuk High School of Monroe in the opening round of the Class L tournament, GHS set its sights on a state championship.
The Greenwich girls took their first step toward seizing the Class L crown as they dominated Masuk by a 7-0 count.
The result didn't surprise GHS head coach Betsy Underhill much. She has witnessed the difference between the FCIAC and the rest of the state year after year come tournament time.
"The upper state schools don't normally have the depth that we do and most are not prepared for the level of talent that Fairfield County tennis has," Underhill said. "That's why the state title usually goes through the FCIAC. As competitors it's difficult to get pumped up for a match like this, especially coming off winning the league title, but these girls don't allow themselves to take any opponent for granted and have an ability to remain focused no matter who they face."
The Cardinals looked as sharp as ever especially in singles competition as No. 1 Jenn DeLuca, No. 2 Claudia Kesala, No. 3 Sam Stone, and No. 4 Danielle Cepelewicz all won their matches in straight sets, 6-0, 6-0.
"We're all aware of the challenge that states present and understand that every match will require our best effort," Stone said. "We haven't won states since 2009 and we're very motivated to do whatever it takes to bring that title back to Greenwich High School."
The No. 1 GHS doubles tandem of Audrey Villemure and Julia Akerman carried over the Cardinals' singles prowess by knocking off the Masuk team of Lauren Hurley and Mary Lacey 6-1, 6-0. Meanwhile, the No. 2 Greenwich pairing of Julia Hyland and Mary Cecio as well as the third doubles team of Anna Daccache and Mathilde van Tulder both impressed by posting 6-0, 6-1 victories.
"It was a little difficult to transition from the thrill of winning the FCIAC title to the first round of states," Hyland said. "As a team we spoke a lot about the importance of maintaining our focus because we understand that there are state championship expectations placed on us. But I feel that this team is mature enough to handle those expectations by focusing on that day's opponent and the task at hand."
The Cardinals will host Staples today at 3 p.m. in the quarterfinals with the winner advancing to the Class L final four. And with each victory and subsequent round of the tournament Greenwich steps ever closer to a state title match with their arch rival New Canaan who the Cardinals just defeated to reclaim their throne atop the FCIAC.
"The way the seeding breaks down it seems like it's almost destined to be Greenwich and New Canaan for the title," Underhill said.
"There are still matches to play and anything can happen between now and then. If it did work out that way it would certainly be interesting because playing a team three times in a season should give you the advantage of knowing them well but in that same breath they know you just as well."
Greenwich 7, Masuk 0
Singles: No.1 Jenn DeLuca def. Lindsey Brooks 6-0, 6-0; No.2 Claudia Kesala def. Demi Skenderis 6-0, 6-0; No.3 Sam Stone def. Kaeleen Boivie 6-0, 6-0; No.4 Danielle Cepelewicz def. Erin Mahony 6-0, 6-0.
Doubles: No.1 Audrey Villemure and Julia Akerman def. Lauren Hurley and Mary Lacey 6-1, 6-0; No.2 Julia Hyland and Mary Cecio def. Amy Rajpolt and Samantha Johnston 6-0, 6-1; No.3 Anna Daccache and Mathilde van Tulder def. Christine Asetta and Hayley Lazar 6-0, 6-1