For the 2013 regular season, Will Burger and Devin McVeigh played critical roles in helping their Rams finish with a mark of 12-4, regularly taking the court as the No. 1 and No. 5 singles players, respectively.
But Burger had a hunch when he approached veteran coach Dan Borgman prior to the start of the Class L state tournament: He and McVeigh should play doubles together.
"I pretty much talked him into it," Burger said.
"We do have different styles, but when you put it together, it makes for a pretty good doubles team, which is good," McVeigh said. "Coach made the final decision, but Will wanted to be my partner, and I was happy to accept that offer."
Though both played singles in the regular season, the New Canaan duo did not enter the state competition without some doubles action, as they had played together a few times during practice, so it wasn't a shock when the top-seeded duo went deep into the tournament.
"We played a lot of doubles while mixing around the singles players because we were looking for a strong doubles team to put in that could go farther," Burger said. "Coach had us play around, and in the end, Devin and I seemed like the strongest team."
After a first-round bye and winning four consecutive matches to make it to the championship match, all that stood between Burger and McVeigh and a state title was the No. 2-seeded Fairfield Ludlowe duo of Dan Adajian and Mason Jennings.
"We were playing against the Ludlowe team, and Fairfield Warde's whole squad was also there and they were taking Ludlowe's side since they're both Fairfield teams," McVeigh said. "We had them rooting against us the whole time, so it felt good to win that match. (All the attention) can be a little bit distracting, but you've just got to zone in on just the tennis. Will's better at it than me. I can't keep my mouth shut sometimes, but Will keeps quiet on the court."
After claiming the opening set 6-3 and building a 5-4 lead in the second set, the Rams got to a triple match point by taking a 40-love lead. Two points later, the match was over and New Canaan won the doubles title for the second consecutive year.
"I was thinking we can do it now. We just knew we wanted to take the match there. I was so excited because I knew this was my last year playing high school tennis. It was so nice to end on a high note like that," Burger said. "Devin and I had a nice little celebration there. We had our team come up. We went over to them and they were all cheering. It was a great feeling."
2013 marked the second consecutive appearance in the doubles state championship match for McVeigh, who, along with last year's doubles partner Jacob Reiss, lost in last season's Class L championship against fellow New Canaan players Patrick Newton and Nick Laub.
Following their first round bye, Burger and McVeigh made quick work of Bristol Central's Shane Kerney and Nick Savino with a 6-0, 6-0 win in the second round. Score-wise, Round 3 against the Wilton duo of Alex Lord and Jordan Lord proved to be the most difficult, but the Rams still won in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3.
"I would say the toughest match was probably the final. We struggled in (the third round against Wilton) when we moved indoors, so it was a little different after being outdoors all season. The team was solid too," Burger said. "We lost a couple of important games. In terms of fighting for a match, that was the most we fought because we knew we had to scrap it out in the end (against Wilton)."
Following their 6-2, 6-1 semifinal win over Kanav Kumar and Evon Pulton of Fairfield Warde, Burger and McVeigh took the championship match in straight sets, bringing their New Canaan High School tennis careers to an historic conclusion.
"Will and I have been on the team since freshman year, so we've seen every team come through," McVeigh said. "We still have a lot of depth, and we lost some key players from last year, but we still managed perfectly fine without them and did the best that we could throughout the whole year."
The title game victory gave the Rams 17 points overall, good for fourth place behind co-champions Daniel Hand and Fairfield Warde (22) and third place Fairfield Ludlowe (19).
"It was great as an individual honor," Burger said. "I would really have liked to have seen the team come home with the state title of course. Being captain this year, I wanted to win it for the team."
Burger and McVeigh will be off to college in the fall, and each has indicated a desire to continue playing competitive tennis.
"I'm going to play club tennis," said Burger, who will attend Dartmouth. "In terms of majors, liberal arts for the first two years, but I'm thinking about mathematics."
"I have to try out for the team since they're Division-III, but I talked to the coach, so I have a shot at that, which is pretty cool," said McVeigh, who is undecided on a major at Gettysburg College. "I'll go wherever they need me, but after this tournament I actually like doubles more than singles."
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