Local roundup: Freshmen lift Bears back into state tennis final
Woodbury - It was left to a pair of freshmen, Meg Rolfe and Emily Gardiner at No. 3 doubles, and they were trailing 2-0 in the third set Thursday.
That's when Rolfe and Gardiner, who had already rallied to win a second-set tiebreaker to even get this far, well, rallied again.
The duo won six straight games and provided the third-seeded Stonington High School girls' tennis team with its most valuable fourth point in a 4-3 semifinal victory over No. 2 Nonnwaug of Woodbury, propelling Stonington to its seventh straight Class S state championship match.
The Bears (19-0), who have yet to break through for a title, meet No. 1 Westbrook (21-0) for the championship at 3 p.m. today at Yale University. Stonington lost to Fairfield Ludlowe in 2006 before falling five straight years to Weston.
Stonington won three of its four matches against Nonnewaug in three sets.
"We were down and out," Stonington coach George Crouse said. "When we won they were so excited, jumping up and down. I've never seen a team so excited. They hugged everyone. They even hugged me and I'm the guy that screams at them every day.
"This is quite a win for these young kids."
Stonington, which has five freshmen in its lineup, is missing No. 3 singles player Caroline Kam, who is out with mono.
The Bears got wins against Nonnewaug from No. 2 singles player Chloe Slater, who beat Hayley Strasburger 6-1, 5-7, 6-3, and their three doubles teams. Lauren Valenti and Abby Volk beat Sam DeMuro and Stephanie Gieralt at No. 1 doubles, 6-2, 6-4, and Emily Buxton and Hannah Fabianski defeated Anastasia Varanko and Sarah Nelson at No. 2 doubles, 3-6, 7-6, 6-2.
"I went and started watching the (No. 3) doubles. I was calm because they were freshmen," Crouse said. "This was super pressure. How could I get mad at them? When I talked to them between sets I just told them get focused and do a better job, but they're still learning.
"... It's kinda nice. We could have lost any of these (state tournament) matches. I thought Waterford had a good chance. We beat them (during the regular season) with Caroline and they have very, very good doubles. It's great."
• Seven local schools and three individuals have qualified for the CIAC championships next week. NFA (Division I), East Lyme (Division II), Stonington, Griswold and Ledyard (Division III) and Old Sayrbrook and Old Lyme (Division IV) will play for state titles either Tuesday or Wednesday. In addition, Waterford's Nick Heddon and Chris Alfara qualified as individuals in Division II and Grasso Tech's Steve Robarge qualified as an individual in Division III.
The Division I, II and III tournaments will be held on Monday and the Division IV tournament will be played on Tuesday at Fairfiew Farms in Shelton. Old Saybrook, fresh off its win in the Shoreline Conference tournament, is the No. 3 seed in Division II.
• East Lyme's Barbara Wilson has qualified as an individual for the CIAC girls' golf tournament on Tuesday at Orange Hills Country Club. Wilson has won medalist honors in the Wildcats Invitational and ECC tournament this year.
• The Connecticut College women won their semifinal round of the ICSA National Championship in Austin, Texas. The Camels topped the 18-team field with 87 points. The top nine teams from the group will join nine teams that have previously qualified to vie for the Gerald C. Miller Memorial Trophy.
Skipper Atlantic Brugman, Liz Wilsterman and Claire Sacco placed second in the A division with 46 points. Bitsy Whipple, Kim Bolick and Katie St. George won the B division with 41 points.
• Junior Jen Herbert of Pawcatuck, a member of the Conn College women's tennis team, was one of 68 Camels named to the New England Small College Athletic Conference spring all-academic team. To be honored, a student-athlete must have reached sophomore academic standing and be a varsity letter winner with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.35.
Mike LeDuc, who earned All-American status in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the NCAA Championship, also made the academic squad.
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