ROCKY HILL — It didn’t take long for Jenna Kornbluth to figure out her match would decide the Class LL state championship for girls tennis Thursday.
Kornbluth, a sophomore, plays No. 4 singles for the Wreckers. Her match started after all of the others because of court availability at The Tennis & Fitness Center of Rocky Hill.
Kornbluth kept her composure and defeated Amity’s Annika Minnotti in straight sets to help No. 5 seed Staples win 4-3 over No. 2 Amity in the Class LL final.
“They (Amity) have some extremely strong players up top (of its lineup). We were hoping to use our depth today to get the victory,” Staples coach Paco Fabian said. “This what you hope for when you start coaching. It’s awesome.”
It was the third straight title for the Wreckers and the fifth overall.
“We came out here, played our game and we won,” Kornbluth said. “I’m really excited. The previous two years we won states, so I’m very glad to help continue that streak.”
Staples denied Amity its first state championship. The Spartans were last in the final in 2009 in Class L.
“I thought our kids played terrific,” Amity coach Harold Freedman said. “(Staples’) experience level was a little higher than ours.”
This is the first year the class finals expanded to four divisions to include Class LL.
Fabian said Kornbluth wasn’t inserted into the No. 4 singles spot until after the Wreckers lost to Darien in April. Fabian said she didn’t lose a match the rest of the way.
“She has made us a really deep team since then,” Fabian said about Kornbluth.
Kornbluth won 6-4, 6-1. Then her teammates rushed the court to congratulate her and celebrate the state championship.
“It was a little scary seeing the whole team come at me, but it was awesome, it was great,” Kornbluth said.
Fabian said the Wreckers would have had a pretty good team last year, but lost that season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fabian is also the school’s girls basketball coach. Staples was the No. 1 seed in Class LL in 2020 and advanced to the semifinals the night before the remainder of that tournament was canceled.
This is the sixth consecutive season Staples has reached the girls tennis final, also winning Class L in 2016.
Amity’s top two singles players, sophomore Kiley Pickens and freshman Isabel Sicignano, both won in straight sets to remain undefeated, as did the Spartans’ No. 1 doubles team of Eesha Acharya and Sydney Pitter.
But Karenna Birns won in straight sets at No. 3 singles and the No. 2 and 3 doubles teams did the same for the Wreckers.
“We have the parts for a successful season for next year and the year after. We will be there, I’m pretty sure I’m coming back,” said Freedman, who has been coaching at Amity since 1975.
Finals, finals and more finals
This was Staples’ 13th trip to a state final, all since 1990. The Wreckers lost their first six times before winning in 2003.
Star of the match
Jenna Kornbluth, Staples: With the state championship on the line and every eye in the building on her match, Kornbluth, a sophomore, rose to the occasion and won her No. 4 singles match in straight sets.
“I enjoyed every minute of not only the level of play, but their spirit and their camaraderie was just a joy to see and be a part of. I liked every minute of every practice.”
—Amity girls tennis coach Harold Freedman.
Staples 4, Amity 3 (at Rocky Hill). Singles: Kiley Pickens (A) def. Allie Francis (S) 6-2, 6-3; Isabel Sicignano (A) def. Jordana Latzman (S) 6-2, 6-4; Karenna Birns (S) def Adithi Wijesekera (A) 7-5, 6-4; Jenna Kornbluth (S) def. Annika Minnotti (A) 6-4, 6-1. Doubles: Eesha Acharya and Sydney Pitter (A) def. Natalie Carozza and Dylan Dasbach (S) 6-1, 6-1; Anushka Aelle Tesoriero and Audrey Kercher (S) def Anushka Acharya and Kyah Francis (A) 6-3, 6-2; Carine Geljerstam and Maya Farber (S) def. Jen Xu and Aadya Wijesekera (A) 6-2, 6-2.