Like the regular-season match between the Wilton and Greenwich High girls tennis teams, Saturday’s Class L state tournament opener was a tense duel that was decided by a back-and-forth doubles matchup.
And just as they did in the regular season, the Warriors pulled out a three-set win.
Receiving a victory from its second-doubles team of Gerri Fox and Grace Cahill, sixth-seed Wilton edged 11th-seed Greenwich, 4-3, in the first round of the Class L state tournament at Wilton High School.
With the victory, the Warriors (18-3) advanced to today's Class L quarterfinals against third-seed Darien in Darien.
At second doubles on Saturday, Cahill and Fox defeated the Cardinals’ Abby Shropshire and Hannah Viney by scores of 6-4, 6-7, 6-1 in a hard-fought match.
“We were definitely not aware our match was the deciding match,” said Cahill, a sophomore. “In the third set, we were just trying to be consistent and remain extremely focused.”
This marks the second season that Fox and Cahill have been a doubles tandem for the Warriors.
“Our experience together definitely helps in matches like this,” said Fox, a senior. “Last year, we had a lot of three-set matches, which helped us pull through in matches like this.”
Ahead 5-1, Fox and Cahill broke in a game that went to two deuce points to close out the match.
“Just like last time when we played Greenwich [a 4-3 Wilton win], it was a battle right down to the last match,” Wilton coach Rod D’Jaly Thoby said. “We knew it was going to be this type of match again, since Greenwich is a great team. What a great match it was.”
Trailing 3-2, the Warriors tied the match when the third-doubles team of seniors Kate Seelert and Mackenzie McCormick came back to beat Greenwich’s Catherine Daye and Rachel Karetsky, 2-6, 7-5, 6-2.
“Our No. 3 team are our Warriors; they have been battling back in a lot of their matches all year,” Thoby said.
The first singles match featured two of the better players in the FCIAC in Wilton junior Izzy Koziol and Greenwich senior Martine Fierro. In a match featuring impressive groundstrokes and strong serving, Koziol beat Fierro, 6-2, 6-1.
“It was tough, because the sun was in and out and the wind was tough,” said Koziol, who has produced an outstanding season at first singles for the Warriors. “Martine hits so hard, so I was shanking my forehand, but I tried to go for pace and just be a backboard and it started to work.”
Koziol enjoys being tested like she was Saturday.
“It’s always fun when it’s a competitive match like that,” Koziol said.
The Cardinals received victories from Christina Gianesello at third singles and Kendall Schrohe at fourth singles. Gianesello was a 7-5, 6-1 winner against Wilton junior Alexandra Iotzova, while Schrohe topped Wilton freshman Rhea Raghavan.
Greenwich’s other point came at first doubles, as Amy Bickham and Yui Inagawa avenged a regular-season loss to Amber Li and Arden Lee by beating the Wilton duo, 6-3, 6-4.
Sophomore Emma Caldwell gave the Warriors a key win at second singles, beating Greenwich sophomore Nathalie Williams.
“It’s a very exciting win for me,” Caldwell said. “The last time I played her I lost pretty bad; I just didn’t execute. Today, I had a lot of self-belief and I remained steady throughout the match.”
“We have a lot of potential,” Koziol said. “We did well in the FCIACs, we beat Darien [in the semifinals]for the first time in a long time. We’re close with Staples; they came out on top [4-0, in the FCIAC finals] but we want revenge in states and hopefully we can see them again.”