WESTPORT — Staples will get another shot at that elusive FCIAC championship.
The Wreckers advanced to the title tilt for the fourth straight season following a convincing 7-0 victory over Greenwich in the girls tennis semifinals on Monday at Staples High.
They’ll face a familiar opponent in the final in top-seeded Darien, which beat New Canaan 6-1 in the other semifinal and will be facing second-seeded Staples for the third consecutive season with the conference crown on the line.
“Darien has been the best for three years now,” Staples head coach Paco Fabian said. “They have a team that even though you want to beat them, you really respect them. It’s a very hard team to beat and we’re going to have to find a way… not sure how we’ll win — I don’t know if we can win pretty or win ugly — but Darien is very hard to play against and we respect them as a team.”
The two teams meet again on Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Wilton High.
Setting the tone on the day for the Wreckers was their No. 1 doubles team of senior captains Kristin Butler and Hannah Bjorkman. The duo was the first one off the court after securing a 6-0, 6-1 win.
“We played pretty well and we came out here with a lot of energy and confidence,” said Bjorkman, who will be attending Dennison next year. “We communicated really well and we were just trying to stay positive.”
Butler and Bjorkman are in their first year as doubles partner and only have one loss on the season. They’re going to the FCIAC finals for the fourth year in a row and they know the Blue Wave will be a tough opponent, as always.
“They are an amazing team and we’re not going to underestimate them,” said Butler, who will go to James Madison in the fall. “It’s all in our heads mentally so we have to go in with 100 percent confidence and know that everyone is capable of winning their match. If we do that the results will show.”
They also said they’d like nothing better than to win for coach Fabian, who has taken the girls program to lofty success, just like he did with the boys program at Staples not too long ago.
Greenwich head coach Betsy Underhill said Staples is a great team and her team gave the Wreckers everything it had.
“They (Staples) deserve to go on to the finals,” she said. “We did our best and that’s all we could do. They just outplayed us. We had some great matches out here with some close sets and two going to three. We’re happy and looking forward to states.”
One by one Staples players came off the court victorious and the last one off, Alyssa DiMaio at No. 1, pulled out a thrilling 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over Greenwich’s Martine Fierro.
“Alyssa played a phenomenal player at No. 1 today and she gutted out a hard three-set victory,” Fabian said.
The coach went on to praise all of his players and said they stepped up against a solid Greenwich team.
“The goal is to peak at the end of the year and we played the best tennis we’ve played all year,” Fabian said. “Hopefully we can carry that over to Wednesday.”
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Alyssa DiMaio, Staples. The sophomore sensation at No. 1 singles dropped the first set before rallying to take the next two to pull out a grueling 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 win in second-seeded Staples’ 7-0 FCIAC semifinal victory over No. 3 Greenwich. She has a 14-2 record this year.
“It’s that team we haven’t got over that hump and beaten yet. They have not had a bad day when they’ve played us and they keep playing their best against us every time. Hopefully we can come out and play our best on Wednesday.” — Staples head coach Paco Fabian on going up against Darien in the FCIAC championship.
Staples will be trying to capture its first FCIAC title since 2002 (third overall) while Darien is looking to three-peat and earn its eighth conference crown.
STAPLES 7, GREENWICH 0
Singles: No. 1 Alyssa DiMaio (S) def. Martine Fierro 4-6, 6-2, 6-4; No. 2 Olivia Foster (S) def. Melanie Leguizamon 6-2, 6-0; No. 3 Carine Geijerstam (S) def. Tess Lamhaouar 6-4, 6-1; No. 4 Alisyn Kercher (S) def. Christina Gianesello 6-2, 6-3. Doubles: No. 1 Kristin Butler/Hannah Bjorkman (S) def. Hannah Crasto/Kendall Schrohe 6-0, 6-1; No. 2 Gabriela Vega/Olivia Gordy (S) def. Melanie Murphy/Amy Bickham 2-6, 6-4, 6-0; No. 3 Lily Smith/Natalie Carozza (S) def. Hannah Viney/Abby Shropshire 6-1, 6-0. Records: Staples 17-1, Greenwich 15-3.