The Greens Farms Academy girls varsity tennis team ended its most successful season in over 10 years and made school history in tying for second place in the New England Preparatory School Tennis Tournament held over the weekend at Milton Academy in Milton, Mass. The annual tournament gathers tennis powerhouses such as Hotchkiss, Kingswood-Oxford, Andover, Exeter, Loomis-Chaffee and other schools in an A and B singles and doubles format.
Bringing home the gold for GFA were senior co-captain Maggie Harwood (Fairfield) and partner Caitlin Rummelsburg (sophomore, Fairfield) competing in B Doubles. Not seeded in the tournament, Harwood and Rummelsburg blew through the draw, beating the number one seed in the second round by a score of 8-0. In the final they faced a wily Kingswood-Oxford team, but they held their ground and won the championship in straight sets.
In A Doubles, 2011 Fairchester Athletic Association (FAA) doubles champions Hayley Sanzone (junior, Redding) and Olivia Kjorlien (sophomore, New Canaan) breezed through their first two rounds before meeting a strong and persistent team from the Hotchkiss School in the semifinals. Although GFA was leading 8-5 in the match, Hotchkiss was able to capitalize on a few opportunities and had an impressive comeback to take the match 10-8. Sanzone and Kjorlien went on to win the 3rd-4th playoff, taking third in A Doubles behind Groton and Hotchkiss.
Meanwhile, in B Singles, GFA's standout sophomore Kyja Kutnick (Redding) defeated opponents from Groton and Thayer in the first and second rounds, before facing Kingswood-Oxford's Melissa Lord in the semis. Lord, an 8th grader, is ranked No. 1 in New England and No. 9 nationally in her age group. Kutnick kept up with Lord early, but the talented eighth grader prevailed, and went on to win the B Singles title.
In A Singles, GFA's singles freshman phenom, Frankie Garofalo (Norwalk), drew a tough first round match. Facing the Hotchkiss No. 1 singles player for the second time this season and battling a wrist injury that seriously compromised her backhand, Garofalo showed incredible heart and determination. Trailing by a score of 1-4, Garofalo wouldn't go away, finding a way to avoid her backhand and frustrate her opponent. Narrowing the gap to 3-4, Garofalo kept it close for the rest of the match, but the injury took its toll and Hotchkiss took the win 8-6.
At the end of the day, among the 14 teams competing, Kingswood-Oxford grabbed the team title with with 21 team points. GFA and Hotchkiss tied for second with 18 team points.
As a backdrop to this high level competition, over the course of the spring, in head to head play, GFA had only lost once. That was a 4-3 score against Hotchkiss. Hotchkiss had also only lost once, and that was a 4-3 score to Kingswood Oxford .
The strong showing from the GFA tennis athletes capped a record-breaking 2011 season. The girls racked up 11 wins and only one loss. Seven of their 11 wins were shutouts. Undefeated in league play, GFA took the FAA title for the first time since the 1990's. In the season-ending FAA tournament, the team of Sanzone and Kjorlien won the FAA doubles title, and Harwood and Rummelsburg were semifinalists. In singles, Kutnick made it to the FAA semifinals where she was defeated by the eventual tournament winner, and Garofalo was a quarterfinalist. With only one senior in the starting lineup (Harwood), GFA coach Monique Rutledge is in a great position to have a strong showing from her squad in the 2012 season as well.
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