Guerin three-peats as State Open singles champ
Updated 5:13 pm, Thursday, June 7, 2012
Weston's Kimmy Guerin won her third straight girls tennis State Open championship Wednesday.
Guerin defeated Newtown's Caroline Kelly, 6-2, 6-3 at Yale University's indoor Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center to make her a perfect 3-for-3 in State Open. With the win, she remained undefeated in her three-year high school career.
"I think I came out strong, and my serve was on today," Guerin said. "My timing wasn't great, but I was able to pull through."
Winning three games in a set against Guerin rarely happens, but Kelly hung tough and was able to do what few players have been able to do the past three years -- especially the last two.
Kelly was especially tougher than last year's opponent, Avon's Hannah Dahlem. Guerin trounced Dahlim in the finals last year, 6-0, 6-1.
Usually, Guerin either shuts out her opponent or loses one or two games at most for the entire match. But Kelly was scrappy and held serve in the first three games of the second set, which was tied 3-3.
"Definitely, she's the toughest opponent I faced all year," said the junior Guerin, who won her third straight State Open title. "She's definitely more consistent than the other girls I played. She has played in tournaments and is definitely more experienced than them."
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Despite settling for runnerup status, Kelly was happy with her performance.
"It's awesome," Kelly said. "My goal was to be All-State and this is a bonus and the cherry on top [of the sundae]."
In Guerin's first year, she was undefeated, like the previous two seasons, but wasn't as dominant freshman year as she was the last two seasons. The three-time champion, who has committed to play at Wake Forest University after graduating from Weston in 2013, recognized a special component to Kelly's game.
"She has a pretty good serve and I struggled to return it, which was a problem the first three games," said Guerin, who broke Kelly to make it 5-3 before closing out the match. "I then decided not to go for as much and got my timing down."
Kelly said, "To hear I gave her a tough match is a compliment because she's a respected player."
Although Kelly didn't go quietly, Guerin slammed two many backhands for winners. The Lady Trojan junior also hit passing shots down the line and crosscourt shots away from Kelly for winners. She also zinged a few service aces.
"My serve was pretty on today, and I was able to win it with my serve," Guerin said. "My backhand was on, and I felt better with my backhand than with my forehand, and I tried to hit it more today."
The Newtown freshman went in with a nothing to lose attitude, which enabled her to give Guerin her toughest match since 2010.
"I just tried to keep it deep, but her serve got me off track because she has great placement," Kelly said. "I tried to play a good mental game and I just wanted to give it my best. It was a great opportunity."
What worked especially well for Guerin was her placement. She'd hit it shallow if Kelly was deep and was deft in slipping winners away from the Lady Nighthawk. Weston's ace was especially effective with her slicing shots, which combined art and skill.
"Sometimes, I go for less, and my slicing was working today," Guerin said.
Before facing Kelly, Guerin began the tournament with three wins Monday, blanking her first opponent, 8-0, before following up with an 8-1 verdict and a 6-0, 6-1 victory in the third round.
In the five matches she played before facing Kelly, Guerin only lost four games. She then bageled the third-seed, New Canaan's Courtney Gallagher, 6-0, 6-0 in the quarterfinals and topped the fourth-seed, Danbury's Lindsey Post, 6-1, 6-1 in the semifinals.
"The finals was the most challenging match," Guerin said. "It feels good to win it."