WILTON — Like the regular season match between the Wilton and Greenwich High girls tennis teams, Saturday’s Class L Tournament opener was a tense duel that was decided by a back-and-forth doubles matchup.
And like the regular season, the Warriors pulled out a three-set win.
Receiving a victory from its No. 2 doubles team of Gerri Fox and Grace Cahill, sixth-seeded Wilton edged 11th-seeded Greenwich, 4-3, in the first round of the CIAC Class L Tournament.
The host Warriors (18-3) advanced to Tuesday’s Class L quarterfinals, where they will visit rival Darien, which is seeded third. Wilton also posted a 4-3 victory against Greenwich (13-6) during the regular season, winning a three-setter at first doubles in the deciding match.
At second doubles on Saturday, Cahill and Fox defeated the Cardinals’ Abby Shropshire and Hannah Viney, 6-4, 6-7, 6-1 in a hard-fought match.
“We were definitely not aware our match was the deciding match,” said Cahill, a sophomore. “In the third set, we were just trying to be consistent and remain extremely focused.”
This marks the second season that Fox and Cahill have been a doubles tandem for the Warriors.
“Our experience together definitely helps in matches like this,” said Fox, a senior. “Last year, we had a lot of three-set matches, which helped us pull through in matches like this.”
Ahead 5-1, Fox and Cahill broke in a game that went to two deuce points to close out the match.
“Just like last time when we played Greenwich, it was a battle right down to the last match,” Wilton coach Rod D’Jaly Thoby said. “We knew it was going to be this type of match again, since Greenwich is a great team. What a great match it was.”
Trailing 3-2, the Warriors tied the match when the No. 3 doubles team of seniors Kate Seelert and Mackenzie McCormick came back to beat Greenwich’s Catherine Daye/Rachel Karetsky, 2-6, 7-5, 6-2.
“Our No. 3 team are our Warriors, they have been battling back in a lot of their matches all year,” Thoby said.
The first singles match featured two of the better players in the FCIAC in Wilton junior Izzy Koziol and GHS senior Martine Fierro. In a match featuring impressive groundstrokes and strong serving, Koziol beat Fierro, 6-2, 6-1.
“It was tough, because the sun was in and out and the wind was tough,” said Koziol, who has produced an outstanding season at No. 1 singles for the Warriors. “Martine hits so hard, so I was shanking my forehand, but I tried to go for pace and just be a backboard and it started to work.”
Koziol enjoys being tested like she was Saturday.
“It’s always fun when it’s a competitive match like that,” Koziol said.
The Cardinals received singles victories from senior Christina Gianesello at No. 3 and junior Kendall Schrohe at the fourth spot. Gianesello was a 7-5, 6-1 winner against Warriors junior Alexandra Iotzova, while Schrohe topped freshman Rhea Raghavan.
“The first set was about consistency for both of us,” Gianesello said. “Winning the first set gave me confidence going forward in the second set. I knew I had to stay in it mentally and play my game. Our team has come so far this season, we just haven’t had much luck in some matches.”
Said Schrohe: “I knew I beat her the last time we played them, but I still felt a lot of pressure going into this match. It was 3-all in the first set, then I pushed forward and the second set it was 4-all and I also pushed through. It was a great match.”
Sophomore Emma Caldwell gave the Warriors a key win at second singles, beating GHS sophomore Nathalie Williams.
“It’s a very exciting win for me,” Caldwell said. “The last time I played her I lost pretty bad, I just didn’t execute. Today, I had a lot of self belief and I remained steady throughout the match.”
At first doubles Greenwich seniors Amy Bickham/Yui Inagawa avenged a regular season loss to Amber Li/Arden Lee, defeating them, 6-3, 6-4.
Wilton defeated its next opponent Darien, in the FCIAC semifinals.
“We have a lot of potential,” Koziol said. “We did well in the FCIACs, we beat Darien for the first time in a long time. We’re close with Staples, they came out on top, but we want revenge in states and hopefully we can see them again.”