Spartan girls' tennis is again the cream of the crop in the Berkshire League.

Coach Joanne Kelly's Shepaug Valley School racquet crew recently closed the books on a 17-0 regular season, including 16 straight victories over league rivals.

Such was the girls' dominance that, en route to the league championship, they built a 94-12 cushion in singles and doubles matches.

Coach Kelly's squad was never seriously threatened since a 4-3 escape over Litchfield back in mid-April.

"It's been a tremendous season," reflected coach Kelly, whose team is now engaged in the state class `S' team tournament.

"We have states ahead," she added, "so I'm trying to keep them engaged and focused."

The Spartans haven't limited their court accomplishments to the team realm.

Caroline Kelly last week rose to the occasion with a come-from-behind, 8-6 victory over Litchfield's Sabrina Cofer to claim the BL tournament's singles title.

In earlier matches, the Spartan junior outplayed Danielle Brasche of Thomaston, 8-1; Jessica Patrick of Nonnewaug, 9-7; and precocious Litchfield freshman Lexi Honigmann, 8-4.

"Caroline had to really fight for this title," praised her coach and mother. "She has been duking it out with Sabrina (Cofer) for three years."

The Region 12 ace had fallen to Cofer, 8-0, in last year's tournament semifinals, and quckly fell behind, 4-2, this time around.

However, she raised the level of her game to claim the title.

"For her to dig in and get back in the match," said coach Kelly, "and then find a way to win it shows the tremendous strides she's taken in the last year."

In doubles competition, the Spartan senior/sophomore tandem of Molly Mercier and Maddie Gorra matched Caroline Kelly's championship performance by outplaying Northwestern's number two doubles and then beating all three Litchfield's pairs, the latter two in nailbiting 8-6 decisions.

"Molly and Maddie played so well," said coach Kelly. "Litchfield has been the team for us to beat this year. We talked a lot about how to do that, and actually practiced it."

"For them to beat all three Litchfield teams to win the title was amazing," remarked coach Kelly.

"I watched everything we had worked on come together and click for them," she said. "It was a proud moment as a coach."

In other tournament matches, Spartan singles players Haley Pesce, Kate Klein and Emma Virbickas gave good accounts of themselves before bowing out.

Jackie Doerwald and Margaret Wolk played their way to the double quarterfinals before an injury led to their ouster.

Jemma Roche and Micaela O'Malley also won their first two matches before meeting their match against a Nonnewaug pair.

-- Norm Cummings