Stonington's Dellacono wins State Open singles title with dominating performance
New Haven — The night before the biggest match of her high school career, Stonington's Gabby Dellacono, for her English homework, memorized the noteworthy soliloquy from Macbeth, “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,” punctuation and all.
Then, on game day, the top-seeded Dellacono began warming up at 2 p.m. on a side court at the Connecticut Tennis Center, hitting with private coach Jerry Albrikes, preparing for her State Open girls' singles championship match against No. 6 Alyssa DiMaio of Staples.
Dellacono might want to keep that routine.
“It's hard to describe when you reach a day … her training came through,” Stonington coach George Crouse said of Dellacono, a junior. “She played last year in this tournament and in the quarterfinals and semifinals I thought she played exceptionally well. This was just explosive tennis.
“(DiMaio) didn't play bad. Gabby just hit winner after winner after winner. She was in the athletic zone where every ball was hers and hers to win.”
After having to wait an hour past the scheduled start time of 4 p.m. due to a lengthy championship doubles match beforehand, Dellacono won one for the Stonington history books, claiming the State Open title over DiMaio 6-1, 6-1.
She became the first Stonington tennis player, boys or girls, to win the Open, doing so with what Crouse would later call surgical precision. Dellacono, who served to commence the match, lost the first game before reeling off eight in a row to take the first set and the first two games of the second.
“Last year, I wanted it so bad,” said Dellacono, making her second straight appearance in the State Open final after finishing as the runner-up a year ago. “I've been working really, really hard since then.
“Losing the first game was definitely like a wakeup call. Like, 'Wake up, Gabby.' The first game I was making mistakes. I was really anxious and nervous. After I lost that it was like, 'All right, I got to focus.'”
Dellacono, who beat fifth-seeded Izzy Koziol of Wilton 7-5, 6-1 in Tuesday's semifinals on Yale's indoor courts, took the stadium court at the Connecticut Tennis Center on Wednesday wearing what she called her lucky dress, a flame red Nike tennis dress emblazoned with a navy blue swoosh across the front.
She had what Crouse called her best match of the tournament, making few errors and finishing with four aces. Dellacono clapped for DiMaio's winning shots, her hand meeting her racket in applause. The court remained mainly quiet during points, save for a few birds chirping, with Dellacono's full complement of Stonington teammates, having made the trip to cheer her on, exploding between points.
“I got here at 2 o'clock to warm up with my coach, Jerry Albrikes,” Dellacono said. “I wouldn't have gotten here without him and without my parents. … I also want to thank George Crouse and my team. I love all the girls for having been so supportive.”
“She lost the first game, then won six,” Crouse said. “She just basically kicked it into total concentration.”
Crouse said the Bears, who have played for the team championship on 10 occasions, were already on the map, but that Dellacono's win “solidifies our existence.”
Dellacono broke DiMaio, a sophomore, for match point, shook hands with her opponent, then headed to meet Crouse and her parents, Frank and Laurel, at the entrance to the bleachers.
Dellacono, the three-time Eastern Connecticut Conference champion, completed the season 27-0 and is 76-4 in her distinguished career. She committed earlier this season to play tennis in college at Division I Brown University.
“I feel like everything was working,” Dellacono said. “When I was hitting the ball, it felt pretty good. … It's really cool (to play at the Connecticut Tennis Center). Famous tennis players have played here. I am so excited.”