By improving its performance against non-league opponents the Weston High boys tennis team will only benefit when it takes on the competition in the state Class S tournament later in the season.
The Trojans have lined up a tough schedule in this respect. If they fare well here they should be all set for the post-season.
“One of the reasons we do so well at states is that we play a tough non-league schedule, which prepares us for anything we may face in our division at states,” said ninth-year head coach Gary Meunier, whose team will take on Amity, Staples, Glastonbury and New Canaan this season. “I would like to get back to the level of performance when we played much tougher and were winning those non-league matches.”
A smaller team in terms of numbers this season, Weston has 13 players. It does, however, have plenty of talent has the potential to reach its goals.
Much of it is back from last season’s team. Posting a 13-2 overall record, Weston’s lone losses were to New Canaan and Glastonbury.
It went unbeaten in the South-West Conference, winning its second straight league championship and eighth in nine seasons. Moving on to the Class S tournament, it won for the 10th straight time.
The Trojans did graduate a few key players since then, including former captain Cameron Hagen (All-State, All-SWC second team). Jacob Greisman (All-SWC), Ben Smith (All-SWC), Nico Zirn (All-SWC) and Robin Willis (All-SWC) have also graduated.
“Last year, the seniors really came through, especially at the state championships, and we had four or five that had been waiting for that opportunity, said Meunier.
They will be a slightly younger team this season with just three seniors. One is captain David Freeman (All-SWC honorable mention), who will likely play singles.
“David looks very strong in the early going and much more comfortable as the leader of this team,” said Meunier.
Classmate Jon Lipsitz is back and will also play a significant role at singles. Ben Lander (All-SWC second team) was a starter last season and is back as well.
Weston will count on a number of juniors, including captain and singles player Oscar Morris (All-SWC). Classmate Jack Lawless (All-State), who was part of the Class S champ doubles team with Hagen last season, is also back and could move to singles.
“Oscar has improved immeasurably and so has Jack,” said Meunier. “We need them to go to the next level of their game to reach our potential this year and every indication is that they have responded, based on a great deal of hard work over the summer and winter.”
Henry Morris is also back as is Jordan Suss (All-SWC honorable mention). The former will anchor the doubles lineup.
A few sophomores will also step up to help fill vacancies, such as Greg Portner and Eric Nalbandian. Meunier expects them to have an immediate impact.
Also back is Miles Metviner. New to the team is Edouard Buisson. Freshmen who could see time on the court are Lucas Billing and Ishan Mirchandani.
“Yearly, our goals are to win the SWC and keep the streak alive at states,” said Meunier. “We have a lot of work ahead of us and a great deal needs to go right for us to repeat again. If someone says the streak is over… I can’t think of anything else that will fire us up and get us on track.”
The Trojans appeared to put together the right lineup when they hosted Newtown in the season-opener last Thursday, April 4. It was actually a rematch of last season’s SWC finalists with Weston prevailing 5-2 this time.
“I was impressed with the way we came out,” said Meunier. “It was a good effort for us. We looked pretty good.”
Weston claimed first singles with Oscar Morris defeating Cam McLeary 6-4, 6-0. Freeman was at second singles for a 6-2, 6-2 win over Tyler Ruefena and Lawless had similar scores in his 6-3, 6-2 win over Ricky Fuentes in the No. 3 singles spot.
New Fairfield’s lone singles win came in the No. 4 spot. It went to three sets before Sean Elliot held off Lipsitz at 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.
An effective first doubles combination of Henry Morris and Portner defeated Yossi Kohlman-Glasier and Nic Klein 6-2, 6-3.
Lander and Nalbandian formed the second doubles team that defeated Keaton McCleary and Matt Cervino 6-2, 6-1. The Rebels’ only doubles win was in the No. 3 spot with Kunal Murvan and Mike Dutsar defeating Mirchandani and Suss 6-2, 6-2.
Weston is at Immaculate today (Thursday) at 3:45 p.m., hosts Bethel on Monday at 10, goes to Glastonbury on Tuesday at 11 and visits Brookfield on Wednesday at 10.