By Eliot Schickler

eschickler@bcnnew.com

The Staples girls tennis team is playing its best tennis right now. Fifth-seeded Staples advanced to the Class L quarterfinals on Wednesday with a 7-0 home victory over 21st-seeded Ridgefield, a team it defeated 6-1 on April 8.

"I feel we're peaking at the right time, which is what you want," Lady Wreckers Coach Casey DeVita said.

Staples raised its record to 18-3 and played fourth-seeded Bristol Eastern (17-2) yesterday after press time at Greenwich in a match it was favored to win. If the Lady Wreckers beat Bristol Eastern, it played top-seeded Greenwich in the semifinals in what would have been the de facto Class L championship. The Greenwich-Staples winner would be favored to win the Class L title on Friday at Yale University. Ridgefield ended its season at 10-9.

"I think everyone is stepping it up and bringing their best game to the court," Lady Wrecker junior captain Farrel Levenson said. "This is the perfect time to do it with the state tournament going on right now."

Levenson was rock solid at fourth singles as she bageled Marissa Bodner at fourth singles, 6-0, 6-0.

"I was consistent and smart using shot placement," Levenson said.

Sophomore Leigh Rubin was the only Staples player to lose to the Lady Tigers on April 8. Rubin lost in three sets after winning the first one back then, but in the rematch, she vanquished Shannon Stanken at second singles, 6-4, 6-2.

"This time, I focused on placing my shot," Rubin said. "I didn't try to go for any single shot and I played off the point. I stayed focused the entire time and I didn't let her come back when I had the lead."

At first singles, sophomore Katie Reiner bested Carlie Sandrude, 6-3, 6-4.

"I was really consistent today," Reiner said.

Rounding out the singles was junior Molly Rudinger with a 7-5, 6-2 victory at third singles over Anna Zukowski. Rudinger survived a grueling first set in which she outlasted Zukowski before taking control of the match and dominating the second set.

"She was a good player and I had to keep her back [on he baseline] because when she came to net, she'd put it away," Rudinger said. "I had to stay with each point until she made an unforced error. In the second set, I was more aggressive. We were both hot and tired but it was easier for me to put more balls away in the second set because I have more energy then than I do in the first set."

Speaking about first-set struggles, senior captain lefty Molly Laux and junior Hannah Bjornson bounced back from a rough first set at first doubles and rallied to beat Christina Fernandez and Christy Marchand, 4-6, 6-0, 6-1.

"After losing the first set, Hannah and I were more thoughtful with our shots and strategized more," Laux said.

Bjornson said, "We had a rough first set but I think we cut out the errors in the next two sets. We came up with different strategies, hit deeper shots, came to net more and took control of the match."

Junior Alex Walsh and sophomore Nicole Marcante defeated Julia Dunton and Sophie Nicolella, 6-1, 6-2 at first doubles; and sophomore lefty Margaux Stamm and classmate Kate Collins steamrolled past Leah Petucelli and Gemma Howard at third doubles, 6-3, 6-0.

"Leigh Rubin is playing the best she had all year and so is third doubles," DeVita said. "The team is great and we're playing like we're on a mission."

Laux said, "It was awesome beating them 7-0 and it gives us confidence."