Stonington's Emilie Burgess beats younger sister Annika to win first ECC singles title

Stonington's Emilie Burgess returns a shot to her sister Annika during Saturday's Eastern Connecticut Conference girls' singles championship match. Emilie, a senior, beat Annika, a sophomore, to win the title, 7-6 (3), 6-3.
Stonington's Emilie Burgess returns a shot to her sister Annika during Saturday's Eastern Connecticut Conference girls' singles championship match. Emilie, a senior, beat Annika, a sophomore, to win the title, 7-6 (3), 6-3. Dana Jensen/The Day Buy Photo

Stonington - Emilie Burgess began thinking in April about the possibility of playing her sister Annika for the Eastern Connecticut Conference girls' tennis singles championship.

As a matter of fact, she hoped it would happen.

But when that possibility became a reality this week, Emilie stressed out. "I've been nervous for the past three days about it," she said.

A combination of Emilie's nerves and Annika's strong play caused the latter to fall behind three games in the first set.

Emilie settled down, however, and won 7-6 (3), 6-3 in a match that took nearly two hours.

"It's cool," Emilie said about playing Annika. "Last year, I played a friend of mine (East Lyme's Victoria Santoro) and it was a really good match, but it wasn't as meaningful to me as playing my sister. I'm glad I got to play her."

Annika said, "I was worried that after we might not get along or something, or get in an argument, but it went fine."

In the doubles final, top-seeded Nicole Stevens and Amy Whitehouse of East Lyme successfully defended their title with a 6-1, 6-2 win over No. 2 Haley Mather and Ali Risley of Windham.

Emilie, the top seed, was out of character against Annika. Emilie criticized herself when she made a mistake. She slapped her leg more than once after a mistake.

"I've never done that before," Emilie laughed. "I lost in the finals last year. All I wanted since my freshman year was to win this tournament. I was really frustrated with myself that I was letting my head get to me."

Annika made things tougher because she played her best match of the season. Her serve gave Emilie fits early in the match.

"I don't think I had as much pressure on me as she did," Annika said. "I didn't have anything to lose and she did because I'm her younger sister. If I lose, I'm a sophomore. She's a senior.

"I don't like seeing her (upset) like that at all, but I just can't try. That's not fair to me. That's not fair to her."

Trailing 4-1, Emilie regained her composure and rallied to win the set.

"Once it was 1-4, 2-4, 3-4, I kind of loosened up," Emilie said. "I wasn't thinking about who I was playing or what the situation was."

Emilie went ahead 3-0 in the second set and held off Annika at the end.

"She's an amazing player," Emilie said of her sister. "She'll have her chance (to win the ECC title)."

It was the second straight year that Stevens and Whitehouse defeated Mather and Risley. The East Lyme seniors wrapped up the championship before the first set of the singles match was completed.

"Every point, we had to fight to win," Whitehouse said. "We put pressure on ourselves to win it again. It definitely wasn't easy."

Stevens and Whitehouse have teamed for two years and never lost a conference match. This year, they didn't lose a set.

"We've been going to school together since second grade, being in the same class, so we have some chemistry together," Stevens said. "We're both really competitive players, so we work well as a team."

n.griffen@theday.com

East Lyme's Nicole Stevens, right, returns the ball with her partner Amy Whitehouse playing net during Saturday's ECC doubles championship at Stonington High School. Stevens and Whitehouse successfully defended their title with a straight-set win over Windham's Ali Risley and Haley Mather.
East Lyme's Nicole Stevens, right, returns the ball with her partner Amy Whitehouse playing net during Saturday's ECC doubles championship at Stonington High School. Stevens and Whitehouse successfully defended their title with a straight-set win over Windham's Ali Risley and Haley Mather. Dana Jensen/The Day Buy Photo
Stonington sophomore Annika Burgess returns a shot to her older sister Emilie during Saturday's ECC girls' tennis singles final. Emilie defeated Annika for the title, 7-6 (3), 6-3.
Stonington sophomore Annika Burgess returns a shot to her older sister Emilie during Saturday's ECC girls' tennis singles final. Emilie defeated Annika for the title, 7-6 (3), 6-3. Dana Jensen/ The Day Buy Photo
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