Path to title could be easier with Greenwich eliminated

It's tournament time in the FCIAC and the New Canaan boys tennis team is aiming high -- per usual.

Led by captain Ben Lee, the third-seeded Rams took down No. 6 Ludlowe 4-1 in the opening round of the FCIAC tournament Monday, advancing them to the semifinals.

While everyone's game typically elevates with a championship on the line, Lee played with additional emotion on the New Canaan courts on Monday in what could have been his last home match of his career.

"I wanted to end it with a bang," said Lee, who will be playing at Louisiana-Lafayette next year. "Everyone is playing well right now so we're ready for whatever."

Thanks to No. 7 Darien's a shocking upset of No. 2 Greenwich, Lee had another opportunity to play at home when the Rams hosted the rival Blue Wave on Wednesday, after press time. The story on that match can be read now at NewCanaanNewsOnline.com.

New Canaan defeated the Blue Wave 5-2 early in the season, yet the Rams lost to the same Greenwich team Darien just beat.

Regardless of seeding, if New Canaan is to reach the final, it will need the same kind of play it saw against Ludlowe.

Nick Laub opened up the match and clinched the first team point, serving up a 6-0, 6-0 shutout at the No. 4 singles spot. The sophomore appeared to be at full strength after taking time off to rehab a sore arm. Laub is considered vital to the team's success, as a lot of squads in the FCIAC teeter on match play in that No. 4 singles spot. Laub has proven he can win as high as the 2-spot, if he needs to, for this team.

"I'm feeling good. It's actually the first time I've played in a week, resting my arm up for the (playoffs)," said Laub, wearing an elastic band around his forearm.

"We knew coming in this wouldn't be the toughest match ever, but we all just huddled together and said to work on one thing that will help us next round."

Kevin Budrawich followed his lead, making quick work of his opponent at No. 3, 6-1, 6-1.

The Rams' only blemish came in No. 1 doubles where Ludlowe's Reid Andren and Austin Henry took down Patrick Newton and Peter Huff, 6-4, 6-1.

While no excuses were made, it is worth noting Ludlowe's tandem was a hybrid of their top singles players -- a move made in preparation for the upcoming State Open.

"This is a team that beat us 7-0 during the season, so we (got) a little revenge," Ludlowe coach John Honey said. "I accomplished what I wanted today in terms of looking at my No. 1 doubles, but (New Canaan) is awfully good. They have a great bunch of kids."

New Canaan claimed the No. 2 doubles point thanks to a 6-3, 6-1 victory from Steve Evans and Connor Hedley. With the team score at 3-1, Lee brought it home for the Rams, beating Matt Fitzburgh 6-3, 6-0 at the top singles spot.

With Greenwich out of the way, the Rams have an opportunity to snag an FCIAC title -- something the team and head coach Dan Borgman have been chasing after for years, only to be stopped by the Cardinals.

-- Matt Norlander contributed to this story.