Wilton girls tennis team off to strong start
If the first two matches are an indication, the Wilton High girls tennis team is going to be tough to beat this spring.
The Warriors opened with comfortable wins over two of the state's traditional powers, beating Weston, 5-2, on Saturday and New Canaan, 6-1, on Monday. Weston is the three-time reigning Class S state champion, and New Canaan had edged Wilton, 4-3, in the conference quarterfinals last year.
"I am very excited for this season; the team has a lot of potential," said first-year Wilton head coach Rod-Djaly Thoby. "I have high hopes for the girls ... that's if they continue to want to work hard, which I know they will."
Wilton finished with a 14-6 record year, losing to South Windsor, 4-3, in the first round of the Class L state tournament.
Eight of the 10 players who represented Wilton in the state tournament are back this season. The group includes junior Izzy Koziol at first singles and seniors Arden Lee and Amber Li at first doubles. Those three were named to the All-FCIAC first team, and Koziol added All-State honors by reaching the semifinals of the State Open.
Also returning are sophomore Emma Caldwell at second singles, senior Gerri Fox and sophomore Grace Cahill at second doubles, and seniors Kate Seelert and Mackenzie McCormick at third doubles. Caldwell, Fox and Cahill made the All-FCIAC East Division squad.
Moving into the starting lineup are junior Alexandra Iotzova at third singles and freshman Rhea Raghavan at fourth singles.
Also expected to contribute are senior Julia Morano, juniors Anusha Chegu and Campbell Johnson, and freshman Annie Caldwell.
"Our singles players are tough and very smart," Thoby said. "Izzy Koziol played and won a match this past Saturday (against Weston) which lasted about three hours. It was a match that had everyone glued on their court. Her mentality and heart to keep on battling was a great example for all the girls who had completed their match before.
"Our doubles teams look strong as well," Thoby added. "They've been adapting to some switches I made and they have been handling it well. We also have some young and new players on our team. And they came ready to take on anything I threw at them. Their willingness to learn and take in new information is key and they definitely will be a big a help to the team."
Notes: Playing at first doubles, Cahill and Fox had the most dramatic win in the match against New Canaan on Monday. They rallied to beat Chloe Siqq and Jenny Loomis by scores of 4-6, 7-6, and 10-7 (one-game tiebreaker).
Adding points for Wilton were Koziol (6-0, 6-1 over Caroline Mayock) at first singles; Emma Caldwell (6-0, 6-3 over Sophie Gardner) at second singles; Iotzova (7-5, 6-4 over Jordan Lee) at third singles; Raghavan (6-4, 6-3 over Valentina Zamora) at fourth singles; and Arden Lee and Amber Li (6-1, 6-0 over Grace Ruksznis and Imogen Smith) at second doubles.