Girls tennis: After long delay, Stonington’s Dellacono dominates to capture first State Open title

Girls tennis: After long delay, Stonington’s Dellacono dominates to capture first State Open title

reporter photo

NEW HAVEN — The waiting was indeed the hardest part for Gabby Dellacono.

But once the State Open singles final began — almost an hour later than scheduled — and once the Stonington High junior settled into the match against Alyssa DiMaio of Staples, the wait for a winner wasn’t long at all.

The top-seeded Dellacono, relying on her trademark power game and playing what Bears coach George Crouse called her best tennis, overwhelmed the sixth-seeded DiMaio, 6-1, 6-1, in 46 minutes Wednesday at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale.

The title for Dellacono was a redemption, of sorts. She lost the 2017 Open final in straight sets. This season, she finished 27-0 (all in straight sets) and became Stonington’s first State Open champion.

“Last year I wanted [to win the Open title] so bad, so this year it was just so important to me,” she said. “Last year I had gone to the finals. I’ve been working really, really hard since then to do well in my [national tournaments], and especially in this tournament I just really, really wanted to win.”

But first, she had to wait.

Dellacono had arrived at the tennis center at 2 for the scheduled 4 p.m. start. But the preceding doubles final just kept going, and included a marathon 10-8 third-set tiebreaker before it finished at 4:37.

In the meantime, Dellacono had put her warm-up shirt back on and kept busy by talking with friends and family, eating orange slices and bounding up and down at the street level of the facility.

“I was a little bit anxious,” she said. “I just wanted to get out there and play. Waiting kills me.”

At 4:59, the match finally began with Dellacono serving. And she promptly lost the first game.

DiMaio, who had upset the second and third seeds to reach the finals, relies on power, too, and she benefited from Dellacono mistakes to take the early lead.

“Losing the first game was definitely a wake-up call,” Dellacono said. “I was like, ‘Wake up, Gabby. Come on.’”

And that’s when things took a turn.

Down 15-love, Dellacono hit a forehand winner down the line, yelled “come on” and won three of the next four points to even things, 1-1.

I was like, ‘All right, we’re tied right now. All I’ve got to do is keep the ball in because the first game I was just making mistakes.’

“Once I broke her serve, I was like, ‘OK, now I can serve again and maybe get this game.’”

Dellacono squandered a 30-love lead with two unforced errors to make it 30-all. But DiMaio followed by hitting long, and Dellacono hit a deep forehand winner into the corner to take the game and go up 2-1.

“She was missing up the lines in earlier matches,” Crouse said. “But today she wasn’t. It was just, like, bullets.”

DiMaio scored more than one point in a game only once in the remaining four games of the first set, which ended with a Dellacono ace, one of her four on the day.

It was more of the same in the second set.

“DiMaio had a tough time,” Crouse said. “She didn’t know where the ball was going. Gabby was just on fire. The score indicates not the ability of the opponent, but the quality of what Gabby played today.”

Said Dellacono: “I was just hitting the ball really clean, and it was going where I wanted it to go.”

And despite the wait, Crouse said everything turned out “perfectly.”

“Just on fire. As close as you can get in high school to — powerful strokes, powerful serves, basically controlling the match — perfection.”

Dellacono, who is 76-4 for her high school career, has made an early commitment to Brown University.


Latest Videos