Thursday, May 19, 2022

Sports

Battle-Tested Guilford Girls’ Tennis Ready for Anyone in States

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The No. 1 doubles team of sisters Charlotte and Molly Babbin helped the Guilford girls’ tennis squad record a successful record of 13-6 during the recent regular season. Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

The No. 1 doubles team of sisters Charlotte and Molly Babbin helped the Guilford girls’ tennis squad record a successful record of 13-6 during the recent regular season. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)

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Junior No. 3 singles competitor Acadia Hall and the Guilford girls’ tennis team have given the SCC’s top squads all they could handle this spring, giving the Indians a big jolt of confidence as they enter State Tournament play. Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

Junior No. 3 singles competitor Acadia Hall and the Guilford girls’ tennis team have given the SCC’s top squads all they could handle this spring, giving the Indians a big jolt of confidence as they enter State Tournament play. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)

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Senior captain No. 1 singles player Claire Dinauer has been a standout on the court for the Guilford girls’ tennis squad this spring, helping the Indians amass 14 victories, along with SCC and Class M State tournament berths. Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

Senior captain No. 1 singles player Claire Dinauer has been a standout on the court for the Guilford girls’ tennis squad this spring, helping the Indians amass 14 victories, along with SCC and Class M State tournament berths. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)

In each of the last two seasons, the Guilford girls’ tennis squad has made some nice runs through the SCC and Class M State tournaments, while standing tall against the most formidable foes. The Indians’ previous playoff experience has boosted their confidence this spring as they drive toward more postseason success.

Head Coach Chris Marra’s club reached its first state final in 2015 and then made the semifinals for both the SCC and state brackets last year en route to an overall record of 14-9. This year, Guilford played its way to a 13-6 regular season record and earned the No. 3 seed in the SCC Tournament, while also securing another berth for the Class M State Tournament. The Indians opened postseason play with a 7-0 sweep of No. 6 seed Sacred Heart Academy in the SCC Tournament quarterfinals at the Guilford Racquet & Swim Club on May 22, after which they took a 5-2 loss against No. 2 Amity in the semis at Yale University on May 24. Coach Marra said that the Indians haven’t backed down against the top teams in their conference, leading them to believe that anything is possible the rest of the way this season.

“Because we’ve been competitive with the better teams in the SCC, we feel like we can compete in every round. We are going into the postseason and feel that we don’t see any team as unbeatable,” said Marra, whose team is now 14-7 overall. “Our goal is to always get better as the year goes on and we’ve done that this year. Because you never know what a team will have, it’s tough to say we want to beat this team or that team. But we had a big win versus Lauralton Hall and had good matches against Amity and Hand. It’s about taking that momentum into the postseason.”

Senior No. 1 singles player Claire Dinauer is serving as one of Guilford’s captains this spring. Joining Dinauer in that role is junior player Sam Stofflet, who has qualified for the State Open Championship with No. 2 doubles partner Emily Dietzko, a sophomore. Coach Marra explained that his two captains are always exhibiting the ideal mentality, along with all the other qualities he wants to see in his leaders.

“At No. 1 singles, Claire is always playing the best person on the other team. She puts a positive face on everything and is pretty good at making sure we walk off the court with our heads held high,” said Marra. “Sam is a great leader and vocal both on and off the court. We have a couple of good captains that lead in a positive way.”

Rounding out singles lineup for the Indians are junior Faren Roth at the No. 2 spot, junior Acadia Hall at No. 3, and the committee of sophomore Allie Stankewich, junior Emma Rand, and freshman Morgan Mancuso in the No. 4 position.

On the doubles side, Guilford’s No. 1 duo features the sister act of juniors Charlotte and Molly Babbin, while the No. 3 spot is held down by sophomore Annabelle Wang and junior Elaina Griffiths.

“Faren has had only three losses this season and is having an extraordinary year. She’s a great hustler and works hard. Acadia is having a breakout year and has done well. Allie and Emma have combined for an over .500 record, plus Morgan has been coming along,” Coach Marra said. “Doubles has been the bedrock of our team. Charlotte and Molly have been amazing. Emily Dietzko and Sam Stofflet are having a great year. Annabelle and Elaina have only lost three matches, but they did have wins against Glastonbury, Lauralton Hall, and Hand.”

In Guilford’s SCC quarterfinal triumph versus Sacred Heart Academy, the Indians’ wins were earned by Dinauer (8-4), Roth (8-1), Hall (8-1), and Stankewich (8-4), along with the tandems of the Babbin sisters (8-2), Stofflet and Dietzko (8-0), and Wang and Griffiths (8-2). Facing Amity, Roth (6-0, 6-0) and Hall (6-3, 6-2) posted victories for Guilford.

The Indians now prepare for the Class M State Tournament, which begins with the first round on Saturday, May 27. A win there puts Guilford in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, May 30, and then another victory would send them to the semifinals on Wednesday, May 31. The Class M final takes place on Thursday, June 1.

While the Indians scored their signature win with a 4-3 victory versus Lauralton Hall on May 3, they also learned a great deal about themselves in a defeat against Class L powerhouse Glastonbury. Coach Marra said that the Indians are using all of their regular season matches as building blocks to help them peak at the right time during the pressure-packed postseason.

“Against Lauralton Hall, we had a great match. They have some good singles players, but all three doubles teams did amazing that day, and gave us a solid win. We lost to Glastonbury, but they are a huge Class L school, so it was great to see us grind and compete against them,” Marra said. “We take our matches in stride. We count each one as its own thing and try to do our best in each one. We want our highlights to come now in the postseason.”

From the Sidelines

Chris Marra is currently in his sixth season as Guilford’s head coach.

Guilford’s 13 regular season wins came against Sacred Heart Academy (6-1), Branford (6-1), Law (4-0), Shelton (5-2), Sheehan (6-1), Waterford (5-2), Lauralton Hall (4-3), Cheshire (7-0), North Haven (5-2), East Lyme (5-2), Mercy (6-1), Nonnewaug (4-3), and Hamden (6-1).

The State Open Championship begins with opening round play on Saturday, June 3 and concludes with the finals on Wednesday, June 7 at Yale University.



John Lecardo covers sports for Guilford, Madison, and Haddam-Killingworth for Zip06. Email John at j.lecardo@shorepublishing.com.

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