Staples edged by Ludlowe in battle for FCIAC girls tennis title
When the crosscourt winner found its mark and victory was finally assured, Ludlowe's Kyra Adajian dropped her racquet and could only manage a simple fist pump.
For over two hours, Adajian and Staples' Olivia Foster had battled back and forth -- with the FCIAC tournament title on the line -- with both sets going to tiebreakers. But in the end, Adajian, a senior, outlasted Foster, a freshman, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5) as the Falcons captured their third straight FCIAC crown, 4-3 over the Wreckers at the Wilton courts.
"In that match, experience definitely had a part to do with it," Ludlowe coach John Reisert said. "I think that Kyra, being a senior and going for a third (FCIAC) title in a row, and being a big part of the last two, she dug deep. I mean, she gave it her all. Some of those rallies were 15, 20 balls long ... different styles of play, both girls used their strengths to the best of their ability."
And in the end it was Adajian, whose game isn't flashy by any means, just strong and steady, that proved to be the difference, especially in the second set when she rallied back from a 5-3 deficit to force the tiebreaker and then win it.
"When it was (5-3) I was talking to coach and he was telling me to hit it deep to her backhand and just try and keep it in play," said Adajian, who improved to 20-0 this season in singles matches and has a two-year regular season unbeaten streak. "I didn't want to go for too much. I couldn't give anything up and I knew I had to put everything into every point."
As did Foster, who will be a bright star for Staples' coach Paco Fabian over the next three seasons. But there were just too many mistakes at crucial times for her to overcome and give the Wreckers the upset victory they so badly wanted.
"When you play someone like (Adajian), it's the hardest type of player to play against," Fabian said. "Someone who's never going to miss, she's never really going to go for a shot. She's going to force you to hit too hard. (Adajian) played smart. She did a great job."
For a while it seemed like the match would go to a third and decisive set -- just like it did in a 4-3 Ludlowe victory over Staples (18-2) on April 23 when Adajian defeated Foster 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 -- especially when Foster broke Adajian in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead and serve for the set. But Adajian broke right back and then won the next two games to take a 6-5 lead before Foster recovered to send it to a second straight tiebreaker.
"She gets to everything so I knew I had to come to the net a lot and try and hit a lot of short balls," Foster said. "I knew I had to try and cut off the angles and make sure I didn't let her get to everything. I tried to make her run more so I would have a better chance to set myself up for a better point."
Meanwhile, Ludlowe's other singles players Lindsey Evans, Cami Adajian and Gabby Gabel were rolling to easy victories. Evans defeated Vanessa Mauricio 6-0, 6-1, Adajian defeated Alex Collins 6-0, 6-0 and Gabel defeated Gabi Titlebaum 6-1, 6-1. But in the doubles, Staples' Avery Wallace and Tess Rubin defeated Lexi Brown and Lauren Hilliker 6-2, 6-2, Megan Brown and Kristen Butler defeated Sarah Jennings and Julia Cheung 6-3, 7-6 (3) and Hannah Bjorkman and Olivia Daytz defeated Ana Wyckoff and Maddie Lefferty 6-2, 6-3 to set the stage for the match-deciding No. 4 singles match.
"That's what we kind of thought it would come down to, the number four singles," Fabian said. "We thought it could go either way. They were the better team. We can't beat them in singles. We haven't beaten them in singles in three years."