Weston’s success starts at the top, where Ally D’Aquino has made a habit of making the spectacular look routine at the No. 1 singles spot.
A four-year varsity player, the senior is enjoying another standout season for the Trojans, who captured the Class S and SWC girls tennis titles during her first three years.
D’Aquino, who will play tennis at Bates College in the fall, was a quarterfinalist at the State Open in 2018 and has won all but one of her matches at first singles for Weston this season – her loss coming against Izzy Koziol of Wilton in the season-opener.
Since then, Weston has won seven straight matches, including 7-0 victories against Brookfield and Bunnell in its last two outings and a 6-1 triumph over rival Joel Barlow Friday. The Trojans’ top singles player has done her part, winning her matches in straight sets.
“She hits the living daylights out of the ball, she is a year-round tennis player and it shows,” Weston coach Dana Parsons said of D’Aquino. “Her strength, power and ball movement are all so impressive.”
Also active on the junior circuit, D’Aquino has certainly built a winning resume during her days on the court at Weston. Her sister Isabella, a freshman, plays on the school’s junior varsity squad.
“Ally is one of the top players in the state,” Parsons said. “She made it to the quarterfinals of the State Open last year and she is hoping to do even better as a senior.”
Complementing D’Aquino in singles play is Rachel Finkel, a consistent performer at the No. 2 spot.
“She is also a four-year starter, who brings a lot of depth and talent to the team,” Parsons said of Finkel. “She’s won a lot of big matches for us at No. 2.”
Junior Lila Pocsik and senior Mariel Zech have successfully filled the third and fourth singles roles. D’Aquino, Pocsik and Zech each posted straight-set victories against rival Joel Barlow.
“Lila plays a different style than everyone else,” Parsons said. “She creates points by coming to the net – she mixes the ball around a little more. Taking players out of their comfort zone is what makes her so good. Mariel is one of the fiercest competitors I have seen. She refuses to lose. A lot of the matches she wins are the result of sheer guts and desire.”
On the doubles’ side, seniors Annika Mirchandani and Hailey Baileux have flourished in their first season at the No. 1 position.
“They have formed a great partnership and have really jelled and worked well together as a team,” Parsons said.
Juniors Charlie Glick and Samantha Godwin have experienced success at the second doubles spot, giving the squad a lot to also look forward to next season, while sophomores Natalie Haythorn and Jordan Conlon have flourished at No. 3.
Weston hosts Bunnell Monday, before visiting Immaculate (Wednesday) and Masuk (Friday). The Trojans edged Stonington for the Class S title last season, 4-3.
“Winning the Class S championship is the end goal, but my goals and expectations are probably different than everyone else’s,” Parsons said. “I want the girls to leave the team knowing they left the team better than they found it. I want them to feel that being a member of the team was a great experience for them.”
DARIEN’S DYNAMIC START
Darien’s boys team is 7-0, with notable victories against formidable foes such as Greenwich and Wilton. The Blue Wave edged Greenwich, 4-3, in their third match of the season on April 4 – a victory that showed they are FCIAC and state title contender. Darien last won a state championship in 2009, when it shared the Class M title with Fairfield Warde. The Blue Wave finished as runner-up behind Daniel Hand in last season’s Class L tournament.
“We don’t like to talk about it much during practice, but our guys realize if they continue to compete at this level and keep working hard and improving, something special could be around the corner,” Darien coach Hugh Underhill said. “We don’t talk about it, but it’s on everyone’s mind.”
Darien’s latest win came against Wilton on Tuesday – a 5-2 triumph against another FCIAC rival. Senior Michael Karr has returned to the squad, where he has provided a boost at the No. 1 singles spot. He competed on the team as a freshman, before taking the previous two seasons off. Karr has won all of but of his matches thus far.
“He is a great competitor who focuses well and he is a great team guy,” Underhill said of Karr. “His return to the team has been a big part of our success.”
John Lochtefeld and Tyler Cramer are Darien’s senior captains. Cramer is one of the squad’s top doubles players, while Lochtefeld is, as Underhill described, “the emotional center of the team.”
New to the team is sophomore Ryan Patrick, who has sparked the Blue Wave at second singles. Against Greenwich, Patrick played first singles and won his matchup in three sets. A native of Ireland, Patrick is currently undefeated.
Junior Nick Derby and sophomore Ethan Zhang have each won the majority of their singles matches for the Blue Wave, who host Ridgefield and Fairfield Warde on Monday and Wednesday, respectively next week, before traveling to Fairfield Ludlowe on Thursday.
“Out of our top four singles players, Mike (Karr) is our only senior, so we are a really strong, relatively young singles lineup,” Underhill said.
Junior Romano DeCaprio has formed a winning combination with both junior Ian Wise and sophomore Chris Calderwood at first doubles, while sophomore Alex de Castro and freshman Andrew Kelley have also clicked well as a doubles team. Kelley has also seen some action in singles competition.
“The expectations for our team is that we can do something special this season,” Underhill said. “The kids are trying a little bit harder and are more focused. They know they have an opportunity to do something special.”