By Dave Stewart on April 24, 2012
Jensen Lee had the weight of her team on her shoulders as her No. 3 singles match with Darien’s Pia Teschner turned the corner into a decisive third set Monday at the New Canaan High School courts.
The Rams led the match 3-2, but with No. 3 doubles down a set, all eyes had turned to No. 2 singles and what was promising to be a dramatic finish. All Lee needed was a little momentum, something she seemed to find from her teammates.
“Once you get that momentum and you’ve got your team behind you, it’s a great feeling,” Lee said. “You know the team’s going to be there for you to support you and that helps with them pumping you up. “You’re like ‘if I lose I’m fine, they’re still going to love me.’
“But winning it for the team is so much better than losing it,” she added with a smile.
Trailing 3-1 in the third set Lee held serve and then gradually picked up steam, rolling to five straight wins to take the final set 6-3, clinching a 4-3 match victory for New Canaan.
The final scores of Lee’s win were 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, in a battle royal for the winning point.
“That was one of those matches were someone had to step up and win it because they were both playing very well,” head coach Erin Gildea said. “Pia has one of the biggest forehands I’ve seen and it’s a huge weapon, so that’s always nerve-wracking. I told Jensen at the beginning of the third set that it looks like it’s going to come down to your match. She’s a fighter and I know she’ll leave everything she has on the court.”
The victory over the rival Blue Wave was a big one for the Rams, who fell to Greenwich 5-2 in their previous match last Thursday. That loss ended a 55-match winning streak for New Canaan, which went out and started a new streak against Darien.
New Canaan is now 5-1 this season, while Darien suffered its first loss and is 6-1.
“I thought we played really well,” senior co-captain Phoebe Wilks said. “Our recent match with Greenwich and this are both really important matches for us because they are such close rivals. In playing them, we can see ourselves reflected and we can learn a lot about our team.”
“They’re definitely a young team with a lot of freshmen and great new players,” senior co-captain Courtney Gallagher said. “So they took us by surprise. It gives us something to work for in the future. It’s something we’ll have in the back of our minds — Darien is an upcoming team.”
The Rams won their first three points on Monday in relatively easy fashion, as the top two doubles matches and the No. 1 singles contest were over fairly quickly.
In doubles, the Rams’ No. 1 tandem of Sara Greene and Kristin Laub defeated Libby Feingold and Caroline McGuire 6-0, 6-0, while the No. 2 pair of Wilks and Amanda Merjian were 6-2, 6-2 winners against Darien’s Sarah Alpetkin and Catherine Hatfield.
The top two doubles teams are revamped from last spring, and both have been in synch this season.
“They’re playing great and they haven’t had any close matches yet,” Gildea said. “It doesn’t mean they won’t, but both teams are really clicking. Tennis is so much about confidence and they’re confident right now. It’s really nice to have them along with Courtney going into some of these tough matches, because I know we’ve got a few great chances to get wins.”
“I was very happy with the way that we played,” Wilks said of her match. “We did a good job adjusting. We started a little but slower, but I think we really were able to pick it up later and we learned a lot. The teams that we played were really good and we had some really great points with them.”
Also putting a quick win in the books was Gallagher at No. 1 singles, as she topped Jenna Murray, an opponent she’s familiar with, 6-3, 6-1.
“I know Jenna from playing at Stamford Indoor Tennis with her last year and she’s always a great player,” Gallagher said. “I played with her in the winter and I knew it was going to be a tough match today. We definitely both played well and had a great match, and I was happy with the way I played. I definitely have some things to learn from that match.”
Gildea praised the work Gallagher has put in at No. 1 singles.
“She worked very hard over the winter and she is one of the fittest players I’ve seen play,” the coach said. “She moves well and mentally, she’s as tough as they get. There’s no one I’d rather have in that spot at No. 1.”
Darien took the third and fourth singles matches, with Erica Gill defeating Kate Howard 6-4, 6-2, and Claire Kelley defeating Emily Brand 7-6 (1), 6-2.
That left Lee’s match with Teschner, as well as No. 3 doubles on the courts with the win on the line.
The players for both teams were gathered at the fence watching the final set at No. 2 singles, as Lee turned it up a notch to get the win.
“She had a great match,” Wilks said. “She was playing very well and even the second set which she lost, was very close. She just really killing it at the end. They had some great points and she was just sticking it through which was awesome.”
“It was definitely nerve-wracking watching that match and I think she knew she was the last point, so she was a little nervous,” Gallagher said. “But Jensen played great so we’re really lucky that she was able to get the win.”
Lee said she started to step forward when she held serve with the score tied at 3-3.
“After that, I really picked it up and I was thinking ‘I’ve got this. My momentum is back and I’m going to win this for the team’,” she said.
She began hitting her shots with more authority as the third set went on, and picked apart Teschner to get the win.
“Overall, I didn’t play my best tennis,” Lee said. “I played really well in the first set, but in the second set I kind of just went away. I lost momentum, but in the third set I brought it back and it was great to pull out that win.”
New Canaan 4, Darien 3
Courtney Gallagher (NC) def. Jenna Murray 6-3, 6-1
Jensen Lee (NC) def. Pia Teschner 6-4, 4-6, 6-3
Erica Gill (D) def. Kate Howard 6-4, 6-2
Claire Kelley (D) def. Emily Brand 7-6 (1), 6-2.
Sara Greene and Kristin Laub (NC) def. Libby Feingold and Caroline McGuire 6-0, 6-0
Amanda Merjian and Phoebe Wilks (NC) def. Sarah Alptekin and Catherine Hatfield 6-2, 6-2
Abby Becker and Katherine Herz (D) def. Tyler Kendall and Jackie Millisits 6-3, retired.
New Canaan girls make a racket in tennis win over Wave
Written by Dave Stewart
Tuesday, 24 April 2012 12:00
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