NEW HAVEN >> Hand’s Gabby Diotalevi and Megan Sosensky lost just one regular-season match as doubles partners this season. That came against Amity’s Daphne Kreiger and Beki Lettick a little over a week ago.
It was a strategic move on Amity coach Harold Freedman’s part. Kreiger, a freshman, has been the No, 1 singles player for the Spartans all season. But Hand’s strength is in the doubles, and that win helped Amity deal Hand its only loss of the season.
So when these two titans met for the Southern Connecticut Conference Division I championship Friday afternoon at Yale, it was the same matchup at No. 1 doubles. This time, Diotalevi and Sosensky prevailed in straight sets, 7-6 (3), 6-3, helping Hand to a 4-3 win and its third straight tournament title.
“I knew it would happen again. (Freedman) would be crazy not to,” Hand coach Kitty Palmer said. “Becky is very good, too, but you can’t get into a cross-court rally with Daphne. You’re not winning those.”
It was Sosensky and Diotalevi, named the most outstanding players of the tournament, who battled to win a crucial point for Hand (16-1), which gave Amity (15-2) its only two losses this year.
“I think we surprised them (last week),” Freedman said. But (Friday), their No. 1 doubles team, especially Megan Sosensky, volleyed really well and I think that was probably the difference. We weren’t able to put as much pressure on them as we did the first time.”
In the Division II championship, Cheshire made it back-to-back titles by defeating Branford for the second straight year, this time 5-2.
“It definitely is just as satisfying,” Cheshire coach Scott Matthews said. “Just like we grow as a team, we expect the team that we play to grow, too. I was really happy with the way my team played, just a culmination of their hard work all season long.”
As crucial as the No. 1 doubles match was for Hand, the final point was decided at No. 3 doubles. Hand’s Ryann Corniello and Sabrina Colonese-DiBello beat Lauren Zorena and Rebecca Bullers in three sets (6-3, 3-6, 7-5) to make it six SCC titles in the last seven years for the Tigers.
“Our doubles has been tough all season. It got us the record we have,” Palmer said. “It’s very satisfying for the girls to play so well.”
Victoria Li and Claire Foster prevailed at No. 1 and 2 singles for Amity while Clara Wang and Ankita Roychoudhury did the same for Hand at No. 3 and 4 singles.
“(Amity’s) first three singles, Fairfield County teams would be pushed to beat one through three on them. With a little more depth, they have us,” Palmer said.
The two teams may square off again, in the Class L state quarterfinals next week.
“I don’t really like that and I’m sure Kitty doesn’t like the idea either,” Freedman said. “We have a strong group of underclassmen, so the future looks pretty bright for us.”
Sara Bruce was the most outstanding player for Cheshire, winning her No. 2 singles match in straight sets over Branford’s Julia Watsky.
“In doubles you have a partner, someone you can lean your shoulder on,” Matthews said. “In singles, it’s easy to cave in under pressure when you start doing poorly at the beginning of the match. It’s easy to let that attitude persist throughout the whole match. Sara has done a great job staying in the moment point for point. She had an awesome match and I’m really happy for her.”
Nadja Pejovic won at No. 1 singles for the Rams (13-4), who swept all three doubles matches. Ellie Bloomquist and Maria Quagliano earned the only points for Branford (13-7).
Hand 4, Amity 3
(At New Haven)
Singles: Victoria Li (A) def. Ana Grosso 6-1, 6-1; Claire Foster (A) def. Meghan Hart 6-0, 6-0; Clara Wang (H) def. Jamie Hashen 6-1, 6-0; Ankita Roychoudhury (H) def, Julia Forbes 6-0, 6-0
Doubles: Gabby Diotalevi-Megan Sosensky (H) def. Beki Lettick-Daphne Kreiger 7-6 (3), 6-3; Jamie Thimineur,-Rachel Einbinder (A) def. Erin Hart-Sheila Flaherty 5-7, 6-1, 6-1; Ryann Corniello-Sabrina Colonese-DiBello (H) def. Lauren Zorena-Rebecca Bullers 6-3, 3-6, 7-5
Cheshire 5, Branford 2
(at New Haven)
Singles: Nadja Pejovic (C) def. Tally Sept 6-0, 6-2; Sara Bruce (C) def. Julia Watsky 6-0, 6-1; Ellie Bloomquist (B) def. Durga Rathi 6-2, 6-1; Maria Quagliano (B) def. Amanda Murray 6-2, 6-4.
Doubles: Christy Freitag-Katie Freitag (C) def. Jocelyn Giordano-Rachel Kurg 6-4, 6-3; Ashley Tartaglia-Sidney Tomko (C) def. Allie Cerone-Jen Hwang 6-1, 6-7 (6-8), 7-6 (9-7); Katie Lynch-Katherong Wang (C) def. Amanda Mauriello-Paige Macneil, 6-2, 7-6 (4).