The Staples girls tennis team has waited an entire season to get another chance at its first FCIAC final appearance since winning it all in 2002. The Wreckers will have to get past the same opponent that knocked them out of the conference semifinals last season to accomplish that goal.
Staples defeated Fairfield Warde 4-3 on Wednesday at home in the FCIAC quarterfinals. The win sets up a showdown with Fairfield Ludlowe on Friday for a spot in next week's final.
"We are so excited," Staples senior Melissa Beretta said. "On my years on the team I have never got past the semifinals of FCIACs. It's such a big deal for us to get that opportunity at a semifinal. It's something I really think we can win and a team we really like to play."
The Wreckers (16-2), who have won 13 straight matches, swept all four singles spots in straight sets to quickly clinch the match against the Mustangs. Staples defeated Warde 4-3 during the regular season as well.
"I felt confident about our singles players today," Staples coach Paco Fabian said. "Warde is a very deep, strong team. I respect their coach and all the players on their team. I was happy we were able to take care of the match early and win all four singles."
Beretta, playing at No. 1 singles, defeated Emily Simonds 6-2, 6-3, No. 2 Julia Bartimer downed Jenny Schneider 6-2, 6-2, Gabi Titlebaum defeated Mackenzie Burns 6-1, 6-1 and Tess Rubin beat Emily Schmerzler 6-2, 6-1.
"My match went well," Beretta said. "I knew (Simonds) was very good and could be very aggressive. I just had to be more patient and wait for mistakes. Thankfully it worked."
Warde's dominant doubles teams, which posted a combined 41-7 record during the regular season, swept the Wreckers duos. Seniors Erin and Megan Hines improved to 17-1 this spring with a 7-5, 6-1 win over Kelsey Shockey and Vanessa Mauricio. No. 2 doubles Mary Ball and Ashley Aufiero defeated Avery Wallace and Rachel Liberman 7-6 (7-5), 3-2 (ret) and No. 3 Liz Gallucci and Darcy Byington defeated Xenia Bradley and Sarah Rountree 6-7 (8-6), 6-3, 6-4.
"Our doubles teams were perfect," Warde coach Marilynn Jamgochian said. "They were aggressive and they did a great job. Our singles were overpowered."
The Wreckers fell 5-2 to the Falcons April 21 and will get a chance to avenge a 5-2 defeat in last season's FCIAC semis. Staples will also meet Barlow Thursday in a game with state seeding implications.
"This year we have the mindset that this is the senior's last chance," Beretta said. "This is sort of everyone's last chance that we have with this incredible team. That focus and drive; we have a little bit more now than we did at the start of the season."
Staples 4, Warde 3
Singles: Melissa Beretta (S) def. Emily Simonds 6-2, 6-3; Julia Bartimer (S) def. Jenny Schneider 6-2, 6-2; Gabi Titlebaum (S) def. Mackenzie Burns 6-1, 6-1; Tess Rubin def. Emily Schmerzler 6-1, 6-2. Doubles: Erin Hines/Megan Hines (W) def. Kelsey Shockey/Vanessa Mauricio 7-5, 6-1; Mary Ball/Ashley Aufiero (W) def. Avery Wallace/Rachel Liberman 7-6 (7-5), 3-2 (ret); Liz Gallucci/Darcy Byington (W) def. Xenia Bradley/Sarah Rountree 6-7 (8-6), 6-3, 6-4. Records: W--12-5; S--16-2.