Staples spring preview: Girls tennis out to defend Class L title
WESTPORT—Defending state champions has a nice ring to it.
Thanks to its arch rival 15 miles down the road, keeping that accolade is going to be a stern task for the Staples girls tennis team, which enters this spring with virtually every top contributor back from a year ago.
But to earn any hardware for a second straight season, the Wreckers — who went 22-2 last year — will have to topple the Darien Blue Wave, who won the FCIAC tournament but were disqualified from states. Darien handed Staples both of its losses last year, including one in the FCIAC final.
The ingredients are there for change in the guard, though, as Staples possesses several seniors who have helped the program improve virtually every season under Paco Fabian’s watch.
“This is the year we’ve talked about for a long time,” Fabian said. “We said that this was going to be our peak season. Win or lose it will be the one of the best teams Staples has ever in terms of the most talent. At the same time we’re going to have to play well.”
Depth will be one of the main strength for the Wreckers once again, an attribute that they’ve prided themselves on in Paco Fabian’s four-plus year stint with the group. Seniors Tess Rubin and Vanessa Mauricio lead a singles lineup that also features Olivia Foster and highly-rated freshman Alyssa DiMaio.
Likely no team in the state has won more doubles matches than the Wreckers over the past three years, and that pattern may hold true this spring. Senior Megan Brown and junior Kristin Butler return for a third straight season as a tandem; the pair have reached the State Open quarterfinals the last two seasons and hope to go all the way this term.
“Kristin is a powerful player,” Fabian said. “She’s very aggressive, has a lot of skills and one of the most talented girls on the whole team. Megan is more of a consistent player; she can keep the ball in play for a long time. Those styles work well together.”
Juniors Gabriela Vega and Hannah Bjorkman also return for a third straight season; they reached the round of 16 at the State Open a year ago. There are several players vying for the final doubles spot, including Luiza Cocito, Olivia Gordy and Lilly Smith.
The Wreckers don’t face the Blue Wave in the regular season until May 2, but they will have other challenging matches on the schedule. Staples hosts Greenwich April 20 and will make a trip to Glastonbury in a rematch of last season’s 4-3 Staples win in the Class L semis.
Whether or not the Blue Wave are there are not, Staples has hopes of making 2017 a special season.a
“Our goal is to peak at the end of the season and win one of the tournaments,” Fabian said. “We don’t worry about who we’re playing against or what the other teams are doing.”