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Staples girls tennis defeats Darien in FCIAC quarterfinals

Updated 8:23 pm, Thursday, May 16, 2013
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On Thursday, just three days after his team edged Darien 4-3, Staples girls tennis coach Paco Fabian admitted that the Blue Wave was the last team he wanted to face again to start the playoffs.

Thanks to success at the singles spots, the third-seeded Wreckers calmed their coach's nerves early.

Staples won three of the four singles matches against Darien and went on to top the Blue Wave 4-1 at home on Thursday in the FCIAC quarterfinals. The last two matches -- No. 2 and No. 3 doubles -- were called early once the Wreckers clinched the match.

"Their team is so deep. They have so many players," Fabian said of the sixth-seeded Blue Wave. "I wanted the match over as soon as possible."

Leading 3-1, Staples sealed the victory when its top doubles team, Alex Collins and Callie Bartimer, wrapped up a 7-5, 6-4 win over Sarah Alpetkin and Catherine Hatfield.

"We said from day one that we wanted to win the FCIACs. This is the first step to the goal," Fabian said. "Darien is a very, very tough team. I really did not want to play them in the first round."

With the win, Staples will have the chance to avenge one of its two regular-season losses when it visits No. 2 Fairfield Ludlowe in the semifinals on Monday. The Falcons defeated the Wreckers 4-3 on April 11.

The Wreckers had good fortune at the singles positions against Darien, beginning at the No. 4 spot where Julia Bartimer defeated Katie Lashendock 6-1, 6-1. The Wreckers pushed their lead to 2-0 when Melissa Beretta topped the Blue Wave's Jenna Murray 6-1, 6-3 at No. 1 singles.

"I tip my hat off the Paco and Staples," Darien coach Davin Gebauer said. "Obviously they have a good team that's super young."

Darien's lone win came at No. 3 singles, where Erika Gill defeated Kelsey Shockey 6-4, 6-4. Gill, who also defeated Shockey in three sets on Monday, said that she focused on hitting the ball longer on Thursday.

"She runs around her backhand a lot to hit a forehand. I didn't hit it to the backhand as much as I wanted to, but I still tried to do that," Gill said.

The lone three-set match on Thursday was played at No. 2 singles, where Staples' Gabi Titlebaum edged Pia Teschner 2-6, 6-3, 6-2. After dropping the first set, Titlebaum said she played more aggressive in the second set.

"I think I just played looser in the second set," Titlebaum said. "The first set I was really tight. I just wasn't really playing my game."

The No. 2 singles win put Staples up 3-1 and on the brink of clinching the match. Fabian was relieved when the Wreckers finally closed it out.

"I was scared of them," Fabian said, referring to Darien. "They have a great coach, and their players, all the way through their lineup they can win."

With the Wreckers having clinched, ahead 4-1 overall, the final two doubles matches were called early. Darien's Libby Feingold and Anna Barsanti were leading at the No. 2 spot 2-1 when it was called. The No. 3 match split the first two sets, 3-6, 6-3.

dbonjour@scni.com; 203-255-4561 ext. 114; twitter.com/DougBonjour

FCIAC QUARTERFINALS

Staples 4, Darien 1 (at Staples) Singles: Melissa Beretta (S) def. Jenna Murray 6-1, 6-3; Gabi Titlebaum (S) def. Pia Teschner 2-6, 6-3, 6-2; Erika Gill (D) def. Kelsey Shockey 6-4, 6-4; Julia Bartimer (S) def. Katie Lashendock 6-1, 6-1. Doubles: Alex Collins/Callie Bartimer (S) def. Sarah Alpetkin/Catherine Hatfield 7-5, 6-4; Rachel Lieberman/Sarah Roundtree (S) v. Libby Feingold/Anna Barsanti (D) match called in first set; Avery Wallace/Xenia Bradley (S) v. Sandya Avula/Allegra Molkenthin (D) match called in third set. Records: Darien 11-4; Staples 14-2.

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