MIDDLETOWN — Redemption.
That served as the buzzword and theme during Wednesday’s State Open girls tennis finals at Wesleyan University.
Both runners-up from last year — Staples singles player Alyssa DiMaio and Stamford doubles players (and twins) Devon and Taylor Yaghmaie — reversed their fortunes with impressive straight-set victories.
DiMaio, the second seed, upended previously unbeaten top-seed Lexi Kubas of Ellington by scores of 6-3, 6-3 to become the first Staples singles player to win a State Open title.
“She (Kubas) hits with a lot of power, so my goal was to keep the ball deep and to her backhand,” said DiMaio, who lost to Stonington’s Gabriella Dellacono, 6-1, 6-1, in last year’s finals. “I knew it was going to be a grind, but after the first couple of games I felt really good about how I was playing.”
Kubas, a left-hander who came into the match 24-0 this spring, pulverized forehands and backhands. But DiMaio nearly matched Kubas’s power while spraying shots down the lines.
“I can play many different styles, and that is an advantage for me,” DiMaio said. “Some girls play just one style and have trouble adjusting to their opponent.”
DiMaio was ahead 5-2 in the first set before rain forced a brief delay. When play resumed, DiMaio closed out the set by holding serve.
DiMaio opened leads of 3-1 and 5-2 in the second set, lost her serve, and then broke Kubas to close out the match.
“We talked about keeping the ball deep and giving her (Kubas) short angles,” Staples coach Paco Fabian said. “Alyssa did a great job doing that; she was just on fire today.”
In the doubles final, top seeds Devon and Taylor Yaghmaie dominated the first set en route to a 6-1, 6-3 victory over third seeds Anna Lang and Claire Langille of Daniel Hand.
The Yaghmaie twins had won the State Open title as freshmen before falling in a third-set tiebreaker last year.
“We were motivated after that loss,” Taylor Yaghmaie said. “We didn’t want to have that happen again.”
The twins won the first four games in the opening set and then took two of the next three to go ahead 1-0. Lang and Langille played better in the second set, winning the fifth game to get within 3-2. But the Yaghmaie sisters won the next two games and then held serve to finish off the match.
“Last year’s finals were not our style of play at all ... it was a lot of lobs,” Devon Yaghmaie said. “This match was more like how we want to play. We definitely prefer a faster pace.”
“Our play was so much better this time,” Taylor Yangmaie added. “We were communicating well and hitting good shots.”