The Staples girls tennis team has slowly gained ground on the elite teams in the FCIAC over the past several seasons.

Led by No. 1 senior Melissa Beretta, Staples has its eyes set on reaching the FCIAC and state finals this spring. The Wreckers reached the FCIAC semifinals and Class L quarterfinals last year under then first-year coach Paco Fabian. Fabian, who coached the boys from 2003 to 2005, said there was a learning curve when making that transition.

"There are so many things that are different in boys tennis than girls," Fabian said. "Not only that we play four singles and three doubles, but also in the state tournament we have a team tournament. There are a lot of things that I'm more prepared for this year."

The Wreckers had four girls earn first team All-FCIAC honors -- Beretta and Gabi Titlebaum at singles and Alex Collins and Avery Wallace at doubles -- and all four return to the lineup this spring.

"This is definitely the best team we've had so far," Beretta said. "Even the team we had last year, which won matches we didn't think we were going to win and came closer than we had in the past. It's exciting to happen when I'm a senior, for myself and my motivation; I want to perform for the team for the last time I'm going to be able to."

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Beretta made it to the State Open third round last season despite not being seeded.

"(Beretta is) very strong mentally out there, and she has powerful groundstrokes," Fabian said.

The Wreckers dropped their opener to Darien 5-2 on Wednesday. The Blue Wave have a deep team and are considered one of the favorites to win league and state titles.

"Our goal is to compete with the top teams, which are Darien, Fairfield Ludlowe -- they are really the favorites to win right now," Fabian said. "You are also going to have to compete with New Canaan and Greenwich -- they are good every year."

Titlebaum went 18-1 last season and will be in the No. 2 spot once again this spring. Julia Bartimer and Collins will be important contributors at the other singles spots, according to Fabian.

Fabian plans to have Kelsey Shockey/Vanessa Mauritzio, Wallace/Tess Rubin and Sarah Roundtree/Rachel Liberman as his primary doubles teams. Xenia Bradley, Olivia Daytz and Megan Ward will also see time on the court.

"We have a lot of depth; a lot of girls with a lot of experience," Beretta said. "Everyone knows the game and knows themselves. We have some strong double teams, girls that just like playing together and knowing what's going to happen on the court."