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Heading into its fourth week of action, the Indians’ girls’ tennis team knew it could clinch a state tournament berth early by notching another pair of wins before a rough SCC second half season slate that include matches against SCC powers Amity and Hand.
Guilford stayed focused on the business in front of itself though, scoring a 7-0 road win over Hamden on April 22. Additionally, the Indians grabbed the match with quick work via earning two-set triumphs in all seven decisions. The Indians repeated the effort one day later versus Foran for their fifth straight win and punching their Class M State Tournament ticket.
While possessing a well-rounded roster top to bottom of both the solo and duo dockets, Coach Chris Marra feels his club came into this campaign ready to win.
“We have got four really good singles players, plus great No. 1 and 2 doubles teams,” praised Marra. “We also have a No. 3 doubles team that is solid enough. One of the keys has been that these girls came into the season prepared with everyone having played in the offseason, because they wanted to be successful this season.”
One of the various Indians’ victories on the day came from junior No. 1 solo player Kristen Forscher, who earned a 6-1, 6-1 win over Hamden counterpart senior Sarah Cubells to notch her ninth straight win on the season after pushing away early concerns.
“At the beginning of today, I was rusty and hit the ball a lot higher than I wanted to,” said Forscher. “Overtime I adjusted, got used to how she was playing, and I was able to hit more down. I have just been staying positive during my matches and being a part of a team that keeps cheering me on out there.”
Early on, Forscher was able to mix up back and overhand strikes to earn early points for Guilford (10-1), as she continued pinning Cubells deep for Hamden (3-3) to where she was forced to return the ball out of play.
As the match wore on, Forscher was able to enforce location on her responses, including a well-placed point that saw her land the ball just in bounds for additional momentum. As she analyzed, Forscher was able to execute low-hit balls that her opponent could not clear the net on. She then put away Cubells with a series of returns which saw Forscher leap high in the air to bring down.
“She is one of the fastest and hardest working players in the league,” said Marra on the junior. “She has a lot of fight and spirit in her; she works for every ball. If she can get there, she won’t let a ball bounce twice.”
Junior No. 2 singles competitor Anna Babbin continued the Indians’ streak with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over senior Emily Ryder. After Babbin tried an over-the-head return she couldn’t convert, she responded by punching in shots that Ryder could not keep in play. Following earning tallies by stepping back and letting the ball go beyond the baseline, the No. 2 singles player engaged her opponent into a series of backhands that she could not clear over the net to help clinch another decision.
“I take risks and sometimes get tense,” said Babbin. “Yet I stay positive and tell myself to get over the net and move my opponent around. My teammates help me, plus I like to get the ball in and be more aggressive.”
In additional individual action, sophomore No. 3 player Emily Etter took her contest (6-2, 6-0) over senior Kristen Cataldo, while senior No. 4 player Molly Louis followed suit versus sophomore Mia Bonadies (6-2, 6-2).
In doubles play, the No. 1 pair of sophomores Madeline Montenegro and Lucy Haskell earned a 6-1, 6-0 score over senior Asha Tuttle and sophomore Ellington Gbanya. After some low backhands that Hamden couldn’t lift up and over, it countered with a slice right through the Guilford duo for points. But Haskell and Montenegro came back with several high-flyers that put the Green Dragons off balance. Hamden tried some underhand volleys in the front court, but they were to no avail.
Rounding out tandem play, the second grouping of senior Amanda Lynn and junior Rebecca Eige won over senior Veronica Blitz and sophomore Carly Seamack (6-2, 6-0) before the No. 3 Indians’ pairing of sophomores Nicole Bondos and Genevieve Wilson found another swift win (6-1, 6-2) against the host’s freshman Sarah Steeles and Casey Bonilla to help Guilford gear up for a strong stretch run.
“We have matches left that include Hand, Amity twice, North Haven, Shelton, and Sheehan, so seven of the nine will be tough,” said Marra, whose squad’s lone blemish is versus Hand. “We will just try to get as many wins both individually and as a team that we can. Those matches will be tough ones to win, but we must do our best.”