Boys tennis: East Catholic edges Weston in Class S tournament

tennisracquetballAn extra win could have made the difference for the Weston High boys tennis team in the state Class S tournament.

In what was the closest contest in recent years, the 11-time defending champ Trojans battled rival East Catholic of Manchester all the way to the finals of the doubles bracket. Although the Trojans did get the win here East Catholic had more success in the singles part of the tournament.

When all the points were added up East Catholic had 21 for the championship and dethrone Weston, which was runner-up with 20 at Conard High in West Hartford on Saturday, June 1. The victory was East Catholic’s first state title since 2001 (when Weston was also runner-up) and ended a run of four straight second-place finishes to Weston since 2009.

“So the streak comes to end after 11 years,” said Weston head coach Gary Meunier. “It was an incredible run, but it still hurts to lose by one point.”

Each school had three representatives in the singles bracket. While neither team actually faced each other in this part of the tournament East Catholic had two reach the quarterfinals.

“If we were going to be the runner-Up, I am glad it was to East Catholic,” said Meunier. “They have been in the rear-view mirror for years.”

Weston had two get as far as the third round. Its highest seed was Oscar Morris (fourth), who started the tournament by nearly sweeping Portland’s Austin Scrivano 6-1, 6-0.

He also defeated Housatonic Regional’s Jonathan Miller 6-2, 6-3 but was then upset in the third round by 13th-seeded Kyle Beynor of Woodland, who won 6-3, 6-2.

Ishan Mirchandani also had a strong start to the tournament, defeating Northwestern’s Jordan Scherling 6-0, 6-1 but then got swept 6-0, 6-0 by 11th-ranked Nicholas Zuczek of St. Bernard.

Seeded 10th, Weston’s Jon Lipsitz, shut out Classical Magnet’s Joe Martoccia 6-0, 6-0 in the first round. He repelled another magnet school opponent when he defeated Career’s Syed Hussain 6-1, 6-1.

Lipsitz finished in the third round with a 6-3, 6-3 loss to eighth-seeded Kyle Peterson on Valley Regional.

Weston put together some strong doubles teams for the tournament. Two advanced to at least the semifinals.

David Freeman and Jack Lawless teamed up and were the top seed. Getting a bye in the first round, they swept Lyman Memorial’s Chris Konow and Ian Montgomery 6-0, 6-0 in the next. They nearly did likewise in the third, giving up just a game in a 6-1, 6-0 win over Wamogo’s Eric Davis and Erik LeCuyer.

Freeman and Lawless would not lose a set in the tournament. For the quarterfinals they defeated East Catholic’s Adam Weinstein and Mike Dorman 6-4, 6-4.

Moving onto the semifinals, Lawless and Freeman were 6-1, 6-4 winners over Portland’s Justin Danielwicz and Alex Riccio, who were seeded fifth.

Their most competition came in the finals. They survived a close first set but defeated East Catholic’s Steve Boccia and James Parla 7-6 (7-5 tiebreaker), 6-2 for the championship.

It was the second straight Class S doubles title for Lawless, who won it last year with Cam Hagen. By reaching the finals, both he and Freeman were named All-State selections.

Henry Morris and Greg Portner, who played first doubles for Weston during the season, were seeded seventh in the tournament and received a bye in the first round. Their first win was against Portland’s John Sinekiewicz and Trey Salvatore of Portland.

They posted similar scores against Woodland’s Pat Dietz and Stephen Pec in a 6-2, 6-1 win. For their next two matches they faced East Catholic opponents.

While they defeated Hunter Stone and Eric Weinstein 6-4, 6-2 in the quarterfinals they  lost by the same scores to Boccia and Parla in the semifinals.

All three of Weston’s doubles teams were seeded, with Ben Lander and Eric Nalbandian in the 12th spot. After getting a bye in the first round, they surrendered just two games in a 6-1, 6-1 win over Cromwell’s Blaise Peschel and Kevin Yawgel.

They nearly pulled off an upset against Portland’s Danielwicz and Riccio in a three-setter before losing 6-7 (5-7 tiebreaker), 6-3, 7-5.

“We came so close,” said Meunier. “Not every team has the luxury of success to set their sights so high year after year. I am encouraging the boys not to look at the season as a failure because we are the runner-up. There were a great deal of things that we did very well this year, there are players who improved tremendously so that we could be a factor this year, like every other year… and I don’t want to lose sight of that.”

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