Staples tops New Canaan to advance to FCIAC tennis final
Published 1:27 pm, Wednesday, May 25, 2016
WESTPORT — Some early bumps in the road now appear a mile away for the Staples boys tennis team.
An FCIAC three-peat could be the next exit.
The No. 2 Wreckers will have an opportunity to claim a third straight title after deposing of third-seeded New Canaan 4-1 in Monday’s semifinals. Will Andrews, Max Zimmerman and Jack Tooker claimed singles victories for the Wreckers, while Brenden Price and Kion Bruno won at No. 1 doubles.
Staples (18-2) will clash with arch-rival Greenwich in Wednesday’s final at Wilton High School. The Cardinals — who beat Darien in the other semifinal — have yet to lose with their lineup intact this season.
Wreckers coach Kris Hrisovulos admitted this season was a learning experience for his team, especially after early losses to Greenwich and Westhill. But as has the case for the past seven seasons, the Wreckers are in the FCIAC final and are playing their best tennis at the right time.
“This is awesome,” Hrisovulos said. “This group of guys really grew as a team … After a tough week we had early in the year with two losses, to just rebound from it, learn from it, stay hungry and play a New Canaan team that was full strength was awesome. These guys have stepped up in all the big moments.”
New Canaan (15-3) had its first match of the season with its full lineup, and pushed the Wreckers far more than in a 7-0 sweep by Staples in the matchup between the teams during the regular season.
No. 1 Andrews and No. 2 Zimmerman claimed wins to put Staples 2-0 up before New Canaan’s John Warner won at No. 3 singles to give New Canaan hope. Price and Wright secured a hard-fought 7-5, 6-4 win at No. 1 doubles over New Canaan’s Tommy Gilio and Sam Havens.
“We battled, today was a good day for us for a lot of reasons,” New Canaan coach Ben Young said. “It was fun to see everyone out there competing, the comraderie was evident. Staples is an elite team and I think we definitely made them work for everything they got.”
Tooker created a roar among the Wreckers camp after he finished off the Rams’ Chris Greene in another tightly contested match (7-5, 6-3). All other matches were then halted.
“They don’t just like playing with each other, they love playing for each other,” Hrisovulos said. “That got them over the hump of New Canaan is coming at full strength. When they do that the best tennis comes out of them.”
Staples will hope to capture yet another FCIAC title while the Rams will look ahead to defending their Class L championship when play begins next week.
“We’re looking forward to states,” Young said. “We’re definitely not going to hold our heads down for long, we definitely excited about trying to defend our state title.”
Staples 4, New Canaan 1
(at Staples High School)
Singles: Will Andrews (S) def. Alex Merijan 6-1, 6-2; Max Zimmerman (S) def. Kyle Mettler 6-0, 6-1; John Warner (NC) def. Jay Mudholkar 6-2, 6-4; Jack Tooker (S) def. Chris Greene 7-5, 6-3. Doubles: Brenden Price/Tyler Wright (S) def. Tommy Gilio/Sam Havens 7-5, 6-4. Records: New Canaan 15-3; Staples 18-2.