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Stonington returns the favor and edges Waterford 4-3 in girls' tennis

Waterford — Ed Kolnaski probably didn't want to smile given the outcome of this match. But he couldn't help it, upon hearing that counterpart George Crouse, the coach at Stonington High School whose program has ruled girls' tennis the Eastern Connecticut Conference for years, referred to the Bears as "underdogs" for Friday's match.

Crouse alluded to Stonington's 4-3 loss to Waterford on April 23.

"Wait until I see George," Kolnaski said with a grin. "Stonington is never the underdog. We beat them over there and it was all three sets and tiebreaks."

The Bears returned the favor Friday, edging the Lancers, 4-3, assuming first place in ECC Division I. Stonington (10-1, 8-1) avenged its lone loss while Waterford (9-2, 9-2) has two. The Lancers also dropped their season opener to Fitch, 4-3, before beating the Falcons by the same score in their second meeting.

Mia Lewandowski won a three-set match at No. 3 singles over Alli Silva for the Bears, while Grace Milne won No. 4 singles. Katya Si-Katie Johnstone and Lauren Buckley-Annaliese Magee won in doubles.

"It feels good to be the underdog and come back and win," Crouse said. "The competition is great because we've got things to work on. We've had some long win streaks in the league. Waterford is a very good team."

Sarah Hage (No. 1 singles), Autumn Brothers (No. 2 singles) and Nidhi Somineni-Nitya Somineni (No. 2 doubles) won matches for Waterford.

"The kids have worked hard, and I thought they played well today," Kolnaski said. "Lots of third sets and tiebreaks. There have been years when we've gone to Stonington, lost 7-0 and we were over there at the ice cream place in an hour and a half."

The Lewandowski-Silva match lasted well more than two hours.

"We've been pointing to this match," Crouse said. "Of course, we were disappointed last time. Things could have gone either way. It was really hard fought."

And while Crouse and Kolnaski could trade playful jabs about underdogs, they were in lockstep agreement about quality of play.

"It was nice to be a part of two teams at the top of the league playing," Crouse said. "We beat them 4-3 and they beat us 4-3. If we played five times, it would be 2-2 for sure in the first four and it's anybody's guess who's win the fifth.

"Anytime you play this kind of competition, it's a good educational process for your players."


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