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    Monday, April 15, 2024

    Old Lyme girls reign as Class S tennis champs for second straight year

    Old Lyme coach Lauren Rahr, third from right, has the team gather around and touch their Class S tennis championship plaque while she says a few words after the Wildcats won their 43rd consecutive match and second straight state title with a 4-3 win over Shoreline Conference rival Westbrook in Saturday’s final at Wesleyan University in Middletown (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Middletown — The Class S state championship match was moved to 3 p.m. Saturday to allow for players taking SATs, and Old Lyme coach Lauren Rahr figured she might go a little bit stir-crazy sitting around at home waiting for the afternoon to arrive.

    So, Rahr organized a breakfast get-together at the high school library, where members of the team not testing sat and watched the French Open women's singles championship match between Poland's Iga Swiatek and American Coco Gauff.

    "This morning the girls set up the points on the screen," Rahr said. "We were talking about, 'Oh, that was a great shot. She could have hit it here, she could have done that.' All the girls were so into it. They're, like, yelling at the TV."

    That's how the Wildcats started their day, one they would finish by winning the Class S girls' tennis state championship 4-3 over Shoreline Conference rival Westbrook. It was Old Lyme's second straight title under Rahr and ran its winning streak to 43 matches.

    Old Lyme (23-0) got wins from Sam Tan at No. 2 singles and Elaina Morosky at No. 4. The No. 1 doubles team of Livie Bass and Alexis Fenton won, as did the No. 2 team of Aggie Hunt and Beatrice Hunt. Morosky was first off the court with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Ava Ciarcia and Tan clinched the championship, earning the Wildcats their fourth point, with a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Gianna Salisbury.

    Tan, a junior who moved up from playing No. 3 singles last year, was one of the players who took her SATs starting at 8 a.m. Saturday. She said the team saved her a cinnamon raisin bagel.

    "It's mentally exhausting (to take the SATs) but you think about the team, you think about the coach and, like, how rewarding it would be (to win). We had breaks in between (testing) and during that I would be like, 'Tennis, tennis, tennis,'" Tan said. "... Westbrook is our toughest competition (in the Shoreline Conference). It's nervewracking because they're great. I'm beyond excited. I'm ready to celebrate."

    "It's amazing," said Morosky, a sophomore who previously won the Shoreline tournament for Nos. 3 and 4 singles players in three sets. "It really means everything to us."

    Rahr, 25, is in her third year teaching math at Old Lyme and her second season coaching (postponed a year due to COVID). She is a Waterford graduate who played tennis in high school and college and said she never imagined a start to her career quite like 43-0.

    "I never thought signing the contract to be the tennis coach, that I'd ever be in this position," said Rahr, whose father, Dave, is the Wildcats assistant coach. "I never got to the state finals when I was playing. It's so cool.

    "... I do get nervous. I get more nervous coaching than I ever did as a player because I throw them out there and then it's out of my control. On the flip side of that, I trust these girls more than I think I ever trusted myself. They're like an extenstion of my family now. I'm so, so grateful that they joined the team and now I get to share these memories with them."

    The Wildcats lose only two seniors from their regular lineup in No. 1 singles player Abby Sicuranza and No. 3 doubles player Fiona Hufford, who did not play Saturday due to illness.

    Fenton and Bass, the Shoreline doubles champions, are the No. 3 seed in next week's State Open invitational girls' tennis tournament while the Wildcats' No. 2 doubles team of Aggie and Beatrice Hunt will also compete.


    Old Lyme;s Sam Tan returns the ball to Westbrook's Gianni Salisbury during her victory at No. 2 singles during the top-seeded Wildcats' 4-3 win in Saturday's Class S girls' tennis final at Wesleyan University in Middletown. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Old Lyme's Beatrice Hunt, left, and twin sister Aggie talk between points of their No. 2 doubles match against Westbrook's Jami Cacco and Olivia Palumbo during Saturday's Class S girls' tennis final at Wesleyan. The Hunt sisters won 6-, 6-0. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Old Lyme'ss Livie Bass returns the ball with teammate Alexi Fenton watching from the net during their No. 1 doubles match against Westbrook's Gabriella Koplas and Delaney Belcourt on Saturday in the Class S girls' tennis final at Wesleyan University. Bass and Fenton won 6-0, 6-01. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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