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  • Greg Lederer

Cheshire Girls' Tennis Drops Tight Match In States

From left, seniors Anja Josef, Riley Baldoni, and Arya Desai enjoyed captaining Cheshire girls' tennis this year. Photo by Greg Lederer.

On Saturday, tennis player Alex Orlins extended her undefeated season at number one singles.

by Greg Lederer

Cheshire Sports Media

On Saturday, Cheshire High School girls’ tennis (sixth seed, 13-5) came up just short 4-3 against Staples (11th seed, 13-6) in the Class L First Round. Junior Alex Orlins (6-0, 6-0), senior Anja Josef (4-6, 7-5, 6-2), and junior Eva Curran (6-2, 7-6 (7-5)) picked up the CHS victories in the top-three singles spots.

“I feel like I played really well,” said Orlins. “I feel like to be able to go up against a pretty strong opponent and to able to play the way I did and win the way I did, I think it is obviously a really good feeling. It gives me a lot of confidence and momentum going into states next week.”

In sweeping 12 games on Saturday, Orlins ensured that this will be the third straight season that she will enter the state tournament undefeated. The reigning Connecticut Invitational Tournament champion has dropped only match in her career.

“I feel pretty good about the way I’m playing,” stated Orlins. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to defend that title. Obviously, there is a lot of pressure coming in as the defending champion, but I hope to live up to that pressure.”

Josef credited her teammates and Head Coach Peter Zacharias for supporting her comeback victory on Saturday.

“It meant everything to me seeing my whole team behind that fence. When I’m down, when I’m up, (it) doesn’t matter, they are cheering me on every single point,” explained Josef. “That first set where I lost it, the talk between Pete, our coach, and this whole team together, they just kept me rallying and they knew I could do it. Eventually, I did it.”

CHS will graduate just three players from this year’s team, but senior tri-captains Riley Baldoni, Arya Desai, and Josef have played key roles on and off the court. Baldoni and Desai have contributed heavily in doubles, while Josef has mostly competed in singles.

Orlins feels that the seniors have been welcoming ever since she entered the Rams program as a freshman.

“They have been some of my best friends,” stated Orlins. “To be able to go and compete alongside them for the last few years has just been really exciting. I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do next year without them.”

This spring, the Rams reached the Southern Connecticut Conference final for the first time since 2014. On Tuesday, CHS fell 4-3 to Guilford at Amity in Woodbridge.

“We are just so proud of this team,” stated Desai. “We are so grateful to be part of it. We are so grateful to be leaders of it and we are going to miss them (the girls) so much next year.”

Growing up, Baldoni fondly recalls coming to watch her aunt Paige Manacek play for the Rams. Manacek graduated back in 2009.

“Considering I grew up being a part of this program when my aunt was here, I always just looked up to this team and I knew that I’ll be on the team one year, but getting to spend my four years here and watching how everyone grew, we are definitely so much stronger of a team this year than when we started freshman year,” reflected Baldoni. “It is really special getting to be a part of it.”

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