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Junior No. 1 singles player Myah Martinez and the Valley girls’ tennis team added two more wins to their tally with victories over Westbrook and Cromwell last week. Martinez has climbed the ladder after playing No. 2 singles last season. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Senior captain Jessica Weinstein is undefeated at the No. 4 singles position with a 12-0 record for the Warriors. Weinstein scored a 6-0, 6-0 victory in Valley’s 5-2 win over Westbrook on April 29. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Senior Allie Champion plays alongside Ada Ramos (not pictured) in the No. 1 doubles position for Valley. The pair are undefeated this year at 13-0. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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The Valley Regional girls’ tennis team has been putting forth a tremendous effort all spring, and the Warriors have an undefeated record to show for it. After qualifying for the Class S State Tournament two weeks ago, Valley posted recent victories against Westbrook and Cromwell to improve its record to 13-0.
Head Coach Sally Riggio is enjoying the ride that Valley is on this year, although she knows the pressure is starting to mount for the Warriors. That’s why Riggio wants her squad to focus on winning each individual match, instead of looking too far down the road.
“We’re just trying to take every match one match at a time and not get ahead of ourselves. We have to stay present and not take anything for granted,” Coach Riggio said. “It’s hard, though. Even a match that’s a 6-1 win, I’m just as nervous any other match. We just hope all the kids’ hard work will carry them through.”
Valley’s approach paid off when the Warriors added two more wins to their ledger during last week’s action. On April 29, Valley claimed a 5-2 home victory against Westbrook. Junior Caroline Baldwin rallied for a 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 win at the No. 2 singles position for the Warriors. Senior captain Jessica Weinstein swept her opponent by the final score of 6-0, 6-0 at No. 4 singles.
The Warriors won all three matches on the doubles court. Valley’s No. 1 duo of senior Allie Champion and sophomore Ada Ramos claimed a 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-3) win; the No. 2 pairing of senior Franny Pisanzio and sophomore Taylor Harpin netted a 6-1, 6-2 victory; and the No. 3 team of junior Jill deJongh and sophomore Alex Halsey prevailed by a 6-3, 6-3 score.
On May 1, the Warriors traveled to Cromwell and scored a 6-1 road win over the Panthers. Baldwin (6-4, 6-2), Tori Adamczyk (6-2, 6-1), and Weinstein (6-2, 6-2) secured victories for Valley in the singles matches. The doubles duos of Champion and Ramos (6-2, 6-3), Pisanzio and Harpin (6-3, 6-2), and deJongh and Halsey (6-1, 6-1) also came out victorious.
All three of Valley’s doubles teams are undefeated this season. Champion and Ramos have a record 13-0, Pisanzio and Harpin are also 13-0, and deJongh and Halsey are sporting a mark of 11-0.
“Doubles is a unique set of circumstances. There are ways to protect a point and ways to ensure you can get the shot you want to close the point,” Coach Riggio said. “Sometimes we’re successful at it, and sometimes we aren’t, but we understand where we need to be to set ourselves up to succeed.”
The Warriors are also seeing tremendous results from senior captain Weinstein, who is 12-0 at the No. 4 singles position. Coach Riggio said that all of her seniors are solid leaders, but she feels that Weinstein is a special kind of captain.
“There were four seniors that were all equally deserving to be the captain in my eyes. They are all dedicated, and they all play very well,” said Riggio, whose other seniors are Adamczyk, Champion, and Pisanzio. “I think it came down to the confidence and comfort level the girls have with [Weinstein]. She’s nurturing, supportive, and fun-loving. She’s just one of those easy-going kids that’s easily approached if you have an issue.”
Another key player in Valley’s formidable lineup is Myah Martinez at the No. 1 singles spot. Coach Riggio said that Martinez is doing a fine job of going up against the top players in the Shoreline Conference.
“Myah is having a really good year after she was No. 2 last year. She has a really great game with beautiful ground strokes. She has risen to the challenge of the No. 1 spot,” Riggio said. “Myah has the best attitude regardless of whether she wins or loses. She doesn’t let anything get her down, and she’s the first one to cheer on her teammates. She’s a fantastic kid.”
Baldwin has a record of 9-3 playing No. 2 singles for the Warriors. She’s made a successful transition to the singles game following a successful year on the doubles court in 2018.
“Caroline is coming off the Shoreline win at No. 1 doubles last year. She has done a tremendous job,” Riggio said. “She’s fierce, driven, and disciplined. She’s methodical about her approach, and her mental focus is really impressive. She’s a fighter.”
As her team enters the home stretch, Coach Riggio wants the Warriors to continue piling up victories, so they can get the best possible seed in the state tourney. Regardless of how everything plays out, Riggio feels proud that she gets to work with such a great cast of athletes on an everyday basis.
“If we keep going as we are, it will give us a good seed in the tournament. Hopefully, we can continue to move forward and get a favorable draw and seeding. We want to represent our community well,” Riggio said. “I’m so proud of each and every one of these girls. They are phenomenal individuals that will be so successful as they grow into women. I enjoy the time that I get to spend with them. I feel very fortunate and privileged to be their coach.”
• The Valley Regional girls’ tennis team’s roster includes senior captain Jessica Weinstein; fellow seniors Tori Adamczyk, Allie Champion, and Francesca Pisanzio; juniors Caroline Baldwin, Jill deJongh, Myah Martinez, Honor Reilly, and Brynn Steevels; sophomores Alex Halsey, Taylor Harpin, and Ada Ramos; and freshmen Paige Lombardi and Ellie Steevels.
• Sally Riggio is in her second year as the Warriors’ head coach.
• For the rest of the season, the Warriors have home matches against Coginchaug and East Hampton/Hale-Ray. Valley will also play road contests against Morgan and Old Lyme.
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