NEW HAVEN >> Amity has long been a fixture in the Southern Connecticut Conference Division I tournament final, but in recent years, those outcomes have ended in disappointments.
Hand pinned losses on the Spartans for three straight seasons. Then Lauralton Hall wins the crown in its first try last season after moving over from the South-West Conference. But in 2016, Amity would not be denied.
The top-seeded Spartans beat No. 3 Hand 5-3 at Yale University to win its first league championship since 2011.
“We’ve been coming up short for a long time,” Amity coach Harold Freedman said. “This one is particularly satisfying. We lost a heartbreaker last year and it was pretty similar the year before.”
Freedman has coached plenty of special players through 41 years at the helm. But even he had to pause and take note of how his top four singles players combined to lose just one set in SCC play this season.
Victoria Li, a three-time Register All-Area selection in the sport, once again came through at No. 2 singles for Amity, beating Hand’s Lee Jaien in straight sets.
“It’s so nice to see her play her game and end it with the kind of domination she has shown in the league her entire career,” Freedman said about Li.
Hand ousted the defending champion Crusaders in Wednesday’s semifinals and played Amity close during the regular season. But on Thursday, Amity jumped out quick and never let the Tigers have a chance to rally.
“They beat us three times this year. They deserve it,” Hand coach Kitty Palmer said. “Amity has been the best team all year.”
Daphne Krieger won in straight sets at No. 1 singles also for Amity.
— Joe Morelli (@nhrJoeMorelli) May 26, 2016
In Division II action, Hamden edged Mercy 4-3 for its first SCC title. That also came down to the final match – No. 4 singles, which, naturally, went to a third set.
Janaya Laude beat Casey Rosa-Bretton to set off the celebration and a bath for head coach Peter Finch.
“I told them about two-third of the way through the season, “If we make it, if we win it, I will still let you dump whatever you want over my head,’” Finch said.
“They reminded me about a half hour ago. During that last match, they didn’t even say, ‘If,’ they said, ‘When she wins, you’re getting wet.’ They kept coming over, ‘Give me your keys, Give me your phone.’”
Vidhya Maran, the SCC Division II Player of the Year, won at No. 1 singles 6-1, 6-2 over Molly Garcia.
“They worked really hard. These kids come out and play day after day as hard as they can, have high academics and are a part of any club you can think of,” Finch said. “They come out here and give it their all. This means a lot to them. They said, ‘This is for the rest of our lives. They can’t take it away from us.’”