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Sophomore Kiera Stankewich earned a 6-1, 6-0 victory in her singles match to help the Guilford girls’ tennis team claim a 6-1 win versus Hamden on April 11. (Photo by Catherine Avalone/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Claire Pringle is a sophomore on a young Guilford girls’ tennis squad that’s holding its own with a record of 3-3 this spring. (Photo by Catherine Avalone/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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The Guilford girls’ tennis squad parted ways with a collection of talented athletes from a team that went on another playoff run last spring. Despite these key losses, the Indians are working hard to become battle tested by facing stiff competition, while learning lessons that will benefit them as the 2019 campaign unfolds.
In 2018, Head Coach Chris Marra’s squad finished with an overall record of 18-5 after advancing to the semifinals of the Southern Connecticut Conference Tournament and the quarterfinals of the Class L State Tournament. This year, the Indians split their first four matches of the season, before taking a 7-0 defeat at Hand on April 9. Two days later, Guilford bounced back by recording a 6-1 road win over Hamden to even its record at 3-3 on the year.
Coach Marra said the Indians have hung tough while going up against several SCC heavyweights during the first two weeks of action. Marra feels confident that his athletes can make strides and help Guilford fare better in its second meetings with those teams.
“This year will be a big learning experience, because it’s been a long time since we’ve had a team that graduated that many starters from the year before,” said Marra. “The first few matches have been OK. They’ve faced tough competition, but they’ve shown they can compete. Other girls outside of the starting lineup have stepped up and shown they can also contribute.”
Guilford features senior captains at the top of its singles and doubles lineups tis year. Senior captain Emily Dietzko is competing in the No. 1 singles slot after playing doubles last season. Fellow senior captains Allie Stankewich and Charlotte Zimmer are holding down the No. 1 doubles position for the Indians. Stankewich was a key component of Guilford’s doubles lineup as a junior.
“These girls bring a lot of experience with them,” Coach Marra said of his captains. “They are great role models with the other kids on the team in terms of their personality and their success with academics.”
Sophomores Hannah Dietzko and Kiera Stankewich are playing No. 2 and 3 singles spots, respectively, for Guilford this year. Sophomore Veronica Zimmer is alternating between No. 4 singles and No. 2 doubles. Fellow sophomore Emma Mullett is also playing both the No. 4 singles position and the No. 2 doubles position for the Indians.
Junior Morgan Mancuso forms the other half of Guilford’s No. 2 doubles pairing. The senior duo of Chloe Shoff and Summer Heckler is primarily playing the No. 3 doubles position for Coach Marra’s club.
Prior to last week’s matchups, Guilford took a 6-1 loss versus Lauralton Hall on April 1. Hannah Dietzko claimed a 6-2, 6-3 win for the Indians in the match.
On April 3, the Indians took a 6-1 loss to Amity. The team of Heckler and Shoff rallied for a 3-6, 7-5, 10-6 victory to account for Guilford’s win on the afternoon.
The day after that, the Indians notched a 6-1 win versus Sacred Heart Academy. Guilford was bolstered by victories from Emily Dietzko (6-4, 6-0), Hannah Dietzko (6-4, 6-1), Kiera Stankewich (6-0, 6-2), and senior Brielle Kendrioski (6-4, 6-3) in the singles matches. The Indians also received wins from their doubles team of Mancuso and Zimmer (8-0), as well as the tandem of sophomores Maya Mau and Claire Pringle (6-4, 6-2).
In last week’s action, Guilford lost to Hand, but then came back to defeat Hamden by a 6-1 final. The Indians saw wins on the singles court from Hannah Dietzko (6-0, 6-0), Kiera Stankewich (6-1, 6-0), and junior Olivia Chiu (7-5, 6-4) when they defeated the Green Dragons. The doubles teams of Allie Stanekwich and Charlotte Zimmer (6-1, 6-2), Mancuso and Veronica Zimmer (6-0, 6-0), and juniors Lea Chaudun and Alex Gabriel (6-1, 6-0) were also victorious.
Youth and improvement will be serving as major themes for the Indians throughout this season. Coach Marra is looking for his team to stay competitive in the SCC in order to secure another berth in the Class L State Tournament.
“We just want to make it to states. Where we are now with states is very different from the past years, when we were in Class M and made deep runs. It would be great to win a round, but it comes down to where we land,” Marra said. “Hand will be tough, but I think we can compete and have a chance the second time around with Amity and Lauralton.”
From the Sidelines
The roster for the Guilford girls’ tennis team additionally features senior Maeve Grattan; sophomores Erica Kegel, Olivia Moroso, Celia Usher, and Catrina Zoebelein; and freshman Leanna Koff.
This is Chris Marra’s eighth season as head coach of the Indians.
Prior to joining the Class L ranks last year, Guilford reached the semifinals of the Class M State Tournament in 2016 and then advanced to the final in the 2017 season.
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