Greens Farms Academy is a PreK-12, coed school in Westport, CT

GIRLS TENNIS: Dragons Win Another New England Championship

John Nash

The match, and the New England Class C championship that went with it, was in Lane Murphy’s hands.

The Greens Farms Academy senior girls tennis co-captain was serving in her doubles match with partner Viola Cullen, with the Dragons holding a 3-0 match lead and the seconds doubles squad up by a 6-1, 5-1 count.

All Murphy had to do was close out her service game and the Dragons would be NEPSAC champs once again.

A funny thing happened on the road to destiny, however.

St. Luke’s, GFA’s opponent in Saturday’s finale, staved off four match points to prolong the game and the match.

“They broke me,” Murphy said matter-of-factly.

All Murphy wanted was one more shot and in the next game she literally got it. With her and Cullen up 15-40, Murphy rushed toward a short approach and blasted a smash past her Storm opponents, giving her doubles team a 6-1, 6-2 win and the Dragons the New England championship.

Click here to see a video of Murphy's championship-clinching shot.

https://twitter.com/GFA_Athletics/status/1528396724787728384?s=20&t=P6kayaGmRzoIljaDLi-DdA

“It’s amazing,” Murphy said. “I feel like we all put in so much effort, but to be in the moment where we clinched the championship, it was just an opportunity to give back to my teammates. We all helped each other every step of the way and it was just so amazing to see everybody come out on the court to celebrate, knowing we did it together.”

When the Dragons won the 2019 NEPSAC Class C title, Murphy—then a freshman—teamed with Harriet Wells to clinch that crown.

After two straight years of COVID cancellations, she got to do it again with the final shot of her GFA career.

The smash on the approach shot is something GFA coach Monique Rutledge will always remember.

“What a great shot it was,” Rutledge said.

 

GFA’s vaunted singles line-up put the Dragons in position to clinch and the Murphy-Cullen duo did just that.

Charlotte Calderwood earned GFA’s first point by putting together a workman-like 6-0, 6-0 win at No. 4 singles.

Lane Durkin then made it a 2-0 score with her 6-1, 6-2 win at No. 3 singles.

A 6-1, 6-1 victory by Lulu Wu at No. 1 singles put the Dragons on the cusp of a championship before Murphy’s smash sealed it.

“This is everything I dreamed of for this team,” Murphy said. “Any championship is special but for myself and the other seniors, to end our careers with a championship is something we’ll never forget. It’s incredible to achieve that with such an amazing team.”

Just seconds after the Dragons flooded the doubles court to celebrate the win, No. 2 singles standout Emi Callahan closed out her match 6-1, 6-1 to make the final score officially 5-0.

“It felt great! Having the girls perform consistently at such a high level was incredibly impressive,” Rutledge said. “Even with a strong team, you can’t ever take anything for granted in a tennis match, so even though we were favored to win, the girls still had to get there, which they did, keeping their focus from start to finish.”

For the record, the No. 1 doubles team of senior co-captain Anya Bettegowda and Devin McCormack were leading 6-3, 5-2 in their match while third doubles (Riley Meyer-Sofia Frost) had just battled through a 6-7 (6-8) defeat in the first set of their match.

 

The Dragons showcased both their talent and their depth in this New England Tournament as on Saturday, when the Dragons coasted to a 4-0 win over Marianapolis Prep and a 5-0 win over Hamden Hall.

In those matches, the team played without Durkin (brother’s college graduation) as Meyer stepped into a singles role and the doubles squad of Eleanor Jannotta-Jasmine Rinzler hit the court for a 6-0, 6-0 win, too.

Rutledge had called this year’s squad the best team she’s ever coached and the Dragons’ 16-0 record is an exclamation point on that statement.

“Having a team like this is any coach’s dream,” Rutledge said. “And it’s mostly always that, just a dream. The coaching staff knows knows how remarkable this season has been. This team isn’t just a good team, they are an amazing team. Six players on the team were undefeated! I’ve been told over the weekend by several people within NEPSAC that we could have won every division of New Englands, which is quite the compliment. We were incredibly fortunate to have had this group of incredible tennis athletes representing GFA this year. It’s been a blast.”