With an opportunity to catapult Fairfield Ludlowe into the FCIAC finals for the first time, Colleen Fitzpatrick wasn't going to let a second set slip away. Neither was her partner at No. 1 doubles, Sarah Boyle.
"We were down 5-6," Fitzpatrick said, referring to the second set of Monday's match against Staples' Alex Collins and Callie Bartimer. "I knew that if we won, we would be the ones who clinched the match. I was not ready to give up at that point."
The Falcons' top tandem made sure to close it out.
Fitzpatrick and Boyle responded to win No. 1 doubles 6-1, 7-6, clinching second-seeded Ludlowe's 5-2 win over third-seeded Staples in Monday's FCIAC semifinal at home.
"What it came down to was just being mentally tough. And my girls, they were tough," Falcons coach John Reisert said of his top doubles team. "They had points they won, they had points they lost, but they didn't let it affect the next point."
Ludlowe will face fourth-seeded New Canaan in the conference championship on Wednesday at Wilton High School at 4 p.m. The Rams, last season's conference runner-up, beat top-ranked Greenwich 4-3 on Monday.
The Falcons, who edged Staples 4-3 in their previous meeting on April 11, captured three of the four singles matches on Monday. Lindsey Evans jump-started the strong performance with a 6-1, 6-1 win at top singles over Staples' Melissa Beretta.
"A tremendous effort," Reisert said of his team's singles play. "Lindsey, of course, played tremendous."
At No. 3 singles, Ludlowe's Cami Adajian improved her personal record to 17-0 this year with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Kelsey Shockey. The Falcons' Daria Efimov topped Gabi Titlebaum 6-3, 6-1 at second singles.
"The ball didn't bounce our way today," Staples coach Paco Fabian said. "Give all the credit to Ludlowe. They're a very good team."
After Staples picked up its first win at No. 4 singles, with Julia Bartimer topping Kyra Adajian 6-1, 6-2, the Falcons notched the match-clinching fourth victory at top doubles.
"We were just trying to be as consistent as possible, just getting our shots in," Fitzpatrick said. "We were trying to put more power on our serves also and back them off. That seemed to work in the second set."
Given Ludlowe's strength at the singles positions, Fabian believed his team needed to make an impact at doubles. Ludlowe however, persevered, despite a strong effort from the Wreckers.
"Going in we knew that they were really strong at singles," Fabian said. "Their one singles and their three singles players are very strong. I think that's the strength of the Ludlowe team."
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Fairfield Ludlowe 5, Staples 2 (at Ludlowe) Singles: Lindsey Evans (L) def. Melissa Beretta 6-1, 6-1; Daria Efimov (L) def. Gabi Titlebaum 6-3, 6-1; Cami Adajian (L) def. Kelsey Shockey 6-2, 6-1; Julia Bartimer (S) def. Kyra Adajian 6-1, 6-2. Doubles: Colleen Fitzpatrick/Sarah Boyle (L) def. Alex Collins/Callie Bartimer 6-1, 7-6; Molly Boyd/Erica Elmslie (L) def. Avery Wallace/Xenia Bradley 6-3, 2-6, 7-6; Rachel Lieberman/Sarah Rountree (S) def. Chelsea Keane/Sarah Jennings 8-5.