Waterford's Hage wins second straight ECC girls' tennis singles crown
Stonington — Waterford sophomore Sarah Hage earned every point of the Eastern Connecticut Conference girls' tennis tournament singles championship on Wednesday.
Challenger Maddie Hamm of Stonington made sure nothing came easy for the defending champion.
Some rallies went on for an exhausting amount of time, with both players refusing to give in.
In other words, it was a typical Hage versus Hamm match.
"If you watch their matches, it's like a battle," Waterford coach Ed Kolnaski said. "That's what they always do. They always have these long, long rallies."
Hage, the top seed, emerged from the entertaining match with a 6-1, 6-4 victory in the rematch between last year's finalists.
"It feels really special," Hage said of winning two straight singles titles. "At the same time, I think I worked really hard for it."
In last year's final, the two players battled for three hours, 16 minutes, before Hage won in three sets. It took one hour, 39 minutes on Wednesday but it also was a fierce fight to the finish.
After dropping five straight games to lose the first set, Hamm, the No. 2 seed, picked up her energy and intensity levels and stood locked at 4-4 heading into the key ninth game of the second set.
This is when both players really displayed their competitive spirit, talent and tenacity.
They ran down and traded impressive shot after impressive shot, going to deuce four times before Hage won to go up 5-4.
"I was really hoping to get that game to go up 5-4," Hamm said. "I thought that game was pretty crucial in the set because it could have helped win that second set. But she got it, she worked for it and she deserved it."
In the next game, Hage finally finished off Hamm to clinch the title.
"It was definitely nerve-racking," Hage said. "It was the ECC finals so I knew both of us were definitely going to play differently. Both of us wanted to win every single point. ... We had so many games that were deuce and adds. Sometimes, it would be add-in, then it would be deuce and add-out. It kept going back and forth.
"At that moment, you just have to think about every single point rather than think about a third set or the rest of the set. So, I just tried to focus on every single point."
Hage's ability to consistently hit winners at critical points enabled her to pull out the match.
"She's like the nicest person," Kolnaski said. "But when she gets on the court, she's still nice but she's very tough. She wants to win every point. That was a battle, because Maddie is just an unbelievable player."
Hamm has had an impressive high school career. She reached three ECC singles finals, winning the crown in 2019.
"I'm happy," Hamm said. "Every year my goal has been to just get to the finals and then see what happens. I won my freshman year. I was really happy about that and everything else would be a plus. I'm really happy for her."
In a stunning result, freshman Marcella Hamm and sophomore Lauren Buckley became the first No. 7 seed to win the doubles title. They beat Stonington teammates Katie Johnstone and Katya Snegovskikh, 6-3 and 6-2.
Hamm and Buckley play No. 3 doubles for the Bears.
"It's incredible," Buckley said. "We just came in saying, work hard for it, play point by point. We worked so hard and it came out in our favor. I still just can't believe it."
They admitted to being a bit intimidated facing their teammates — Stonington's No. 1 doubles duo and defending ECC doubles champions.
Hamm, Maddie's younger sister, added that they felt no pressure because no one expected them to reach this point, never mind win.
"It's always nerve-racking to play your own teammates in the final, but we thought of it as we've come this far and there's no pressure," Marcella Hamm said. "We've just got to play our best."
And the winning duo did just that.
Singles: Will Albrikes (Fitch), Tucker Callahan (Stonington), Daniel Sapozhnikov (East Lyme), Jiarui Peng (East Lyme).
Doubles: Conrad Tobiassen-Josh Lord (Stonington), Rohan Purohit/Rohun Boopathy (East Lyme), Doug Cardona/Tim Lynch (Fitch).
Honorable Mention: Singles: Matt Turrisi (Stonington), Andres Sardar (Fitch); Doubles: Matt Bradley-Riley Walsh (East Lyme).
Sportsmanship: Matt Bradley (East Lyme), Will Albrikes (Fitch), Peter Previty (Stonington), Enzo Guarnieri (Waterford).
Scholar-athlete: Aditya Kabra (East Lyme), Andres Sardar(Fitch), Conrad Tobiassen (Stonington), Gabriel Parent (Waterford).
Singles: Julian Mileski (Ledyard), Evan Haskins (Woodstock), Matt Bourguignon (Ledyard), Gabriel Viau (Woodstock).
Doubles: Ronan Allison-Ben Fieldsend (Ledyard), Reese Yaras-Malloch Allison (Ledyard), Ari Abrams-Tyler Chamberlin (Woodstock).
Honorable mention: Singles: Damion DePaul (Ledyard), Jack Lacey (NFA); Doubles: Cormac Nielsen-Kyle Pazienza (Woodstock).
Sportsmanship: Damion DePaul (Ledyard), Flavio Alvarado (New London), Jack Lacey (NFA), Zhou Shi (Woodstock).
Scholar-athlete: Matt Bourguignon (Ledyard), Bennett Oakes (New London), Aydin Chowdhury (NFA), Jai Abrams (Woodstock)
Singles: Brendan Duhamel (Montville), Liam Peters (St. Bernard/Wheeler), Lucas Clayton (Killingly), Jack Giurleo (Montville).
Doubles: Wyatt Hayes-Sam Cunningham (SB/W); Coen Laibrandt-Ryan Miller (Lyman Memorial); Joey Busher-Nathan Dobley (SB/W).
Honorable mention: Singles: Matt Bottaro (SB/W), Ethan Thomas (Montville); Doubles: Danny Zhong-Benny Wu (Montville).
Sportsmanship: Seth Varin (Killingly), Justin Valiquette (Lyman), Jack Giurleo (Montville), Zach Kobyluck (SB/W).
Scholar-athlete: Ryan Miller (Killingly), Coen Laibrandt (Lyman), Brendan Duhamel (Montville), Liam Peters (SB/W).
Singles: Sarah Hage (Waterford), Maddie Hamm (Stonington), Grace Duggan (Stonington), Mara Wolff (East Lyme).
Doubles: Katya Snegovskikh-Katie Johnstone (Stonington), Erin Motherway-Emily Fulling (Stonington), Iris Liu-Avery Rindell (East Lyme).
Honorable mention: Singles: Julia Mielguj (Fitch), Autumn Brothers (Waterford); Doubles: Anna Servidio-Kristine Lee (Fitch).
Sportsmanship: Riddhi Bansal (East Lyme), Fiza Shariff (Fitch), Mia Lewandowski (Stonington), Maple Sui (Waterford).
Scholar-athlete: Mara Wolff (East Lyme), Anna Servidio (Fitch), Maddie Gonzalez (Stonington), Marina Molina (Waterford).
Singles: Paige Raposo (NFA), Sarah Bailey (Ledyard), Jackie Trudeau (Woodstock), Addy Smith (Woodstock).
Doubles: Ellie Bishop Klee-Logan Reynolds (Woodstock), Morgan Bentley-Stella Atchinson (Woodstock), Alanah Maranzano-Kylee Gill (Ledyard).
Honorable mention: Singles: Sydney Schuler (Woodstock), Emily Fielding (New London); Doubles: Emma Massey-Peyton Bentley (Woodstock).
Sportsmanship: Courtney Sizer (Ledyard), Christmaela Bouquet (New London), Emily Eggler (NFA), Morgan Bentley (Woodstock).
Scholar-athlete: Sarah Bailey (Ledyard), Emily Fielding (New London), Paige Raposo (NFA), Addy Smith (Woodstock).
Singles: Sydney Kolz (Montville), Zhuning Gao (St. Bernard), Nina Gardella (Lyman Memorial), Allie Kondash (Montville).
Doubles: Avery Brooks-Alexis Zimnoch (Lyman), Amelia Wentworth-Aria Nowosad (Lyman), Anna Beauchene-Jessica Hochdarfer (Montville).
Honorable mention: Singles: Meri Kamboli (St. Bernard), Fiona Lau (Montville); Doubles: Alexa Hartman-Linda Ru (Montville).
Sportsmanship: Jessica Long (Killingly), Nina Gardella (Lyman), Alexa Hartman (Montville), Blake Murray (St. Bernard), Naisha Rios (Windham/Windham Tech).
Scholar-athlete: Nicole Cicchetti (Killingly), Aria Nowosad (Lyman), Sydney Kolz (Montville), Olivia Busher (St. Bernard), Allona Laboy (W/WT).