Teamwork lifts Staples girls tennis to 8-1 start
The cohesive unit that is the Staples girls tennis team doesn't have any stars or bonafide No. 1 players. What the Wreckers do have is perhaps the deepest team in the FCIAC.
Staples pushed its record to 8-1 on Thursday with a 6-1 home win over New Canaan behind that depth.
Despite having many of matches against the top FCIAC contenders, the Wreckers survived the tough stretch behind an army of players of similar skill level. It even surprised head coach Paco Fabian, who believed the team could stumble early in the season as a number of freshman contributed to the team.
"I underestimated our depth this year," Fabian said. "We've been strong throughout the lineup. Hopefully we don't get that loss that I predicted we would have because right now we are looking pretty good."
The lone blemish on the Wreckers' record is a 4-3 setback to Fairfield Ludlowe last Thursday. Even in defeat, Staples improved by leaps and bounds and almost pulled out the match against the defending FCIAC and Class L champions.
Against the Rams, the Wreckers dropped the No. 1 singles match as Caroline Gordon defeated Vanessa Mauricio 6-3, 6-3. No. 3 singles Gabi Titlebaum defeated Ashley Camryn 6-4, 6-1 and No. 4 Olivia Foster, a freshman, defeated Brittany Barber 6-2, 6-1.
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"We're playing well throughout the lineup right now," Fabian said. "It looks like we can get a win from anywhere, which is always nice to look around and see different girls step up every day."
No. 2 singles Alex Collins survived a tough match to defeat New Canaan's Camryn Schlim 6-1, 4-6, 6-4. Collins said Schlim raised her game in the second set, forcing Collins to adjust.
"The first set I played really well," Collins said. "The second set I kind of lost my focus a little bit, but in the third set I finally pulled through. (Schlim) was hitting a lot more consistently."
In doubles, Avery Wallace and Tess Rubin defeated Sarah Lovejoy and Schayler O'Mahoney 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (7-1), Megan Brown and Kristin Butler beat Abby Crowley and Cameron Datyon 6-0, 6-3 and Hannah Bjorkman and Gabriela Vega defeated Katie Means and Elizabeth Roman 4-6, 6-3, 10-7.
Staples pulled out dramatic 4-3 wins over Darien and Greenwich earlier in the season. Collins won her match against the Cardinals, and freshman duo Bjorkman/Vega won the decisive doubles match against the Blue Wave.
"In team matches it doesn't matter if you win No. 1 or No 2 singles or No. 2 or No. 3 doubles; as long as you get wins," Fabian said. "We're deep; I feel like I could pull people off the bench and get wins anywhere. It helps us versus a lot of teams."
The similarity in skill level only adds to the team approach.
"Since most of us are pretty equal in our talents I think that's a lot better for the team," Collins said. "We don't have someone that's better than everyone else and it's just been really fun together and being able to play with each other."
An influx of talented of talented freshman has been vital to the depth of the team.
"They're playing great and it's amazing how many great freshman we have," Collins said.