The St. Luke's boys tennis team is getting close, but hasn't quite been able to get four strong matches consistently. Still, it's capable of mowing over inferior competition, as was witnessed last Thursday.

The Crusaders had their second tough match in as many days last Wednesday -- and suffered its second narrow defeat in a row -- falling 4-3 at Rye Country Day School.

Playing No. 1 singles, junior Roy Skinner continued his strong season, fighting back from two first-set breaks to force a tiebreaker on the way to a 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 win over the Rye junior, Paul Fanto.

Rye took the next two singles matches, with junior Brenton Howland beating sophomore Luke Osherow 6-3, 6-3 at No. 2, while sophomore Sebastian LaFontant defeated eighth-grader Gardner Tregellas 6-1, 6-1 at No. 3. Playing No. 4 singles, eighth-grader Justin Hart bounced back after losing the first set to win a two-hour slugfest against freshman Tyler Tananbaum, 5-7, 7-6 (7-4), 6-1.

At No. 1 doubles, Rye's Matt Weissman and Zach Needle, both sophomores, rebounded from a 5-2 deficit in the opening set to defeat the freshmen duo of Powell Robinson IV and Jake Hamill 7-5, 6-0, while the St. Luke's seniors, Patrick Shurr and Andrew Boniche, fell at No. 3 doubles to freshman Nick Kemp and junior David Rosenzweig by the score of 6-3, 6-1.

In the day's second and last marathon, freshman Wiley Vehslage and junior Ethan Pearce dropped the first set and were twice down a service break in the third set before rallying to win over the juniors Soma Kobayashi and Andrew Wong 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.

Then, on Thursday, the Crusaders played their third match in a row, saving their best for last and sweeping the team from the Masters School 7-0 in a match played in New Canaan. In a face-off of two juniors at No. 1 singles, Skinner of St. Luke's won his third match in three outings that week after defeating Jake Granoff 6-0, 6-0. Osherow, playing No. 2 singles, also won handily, 6-1, 6-1 over senior Daniel Rijinashuily.

Tregellas, playing No. 3 singles, beat junior Isaac Flaum 6-2, 6-3. Hart beat freshman Tyler Pager 6-3, 6-2 to solidify the win for St. Luke's.

In doubles, the freshman team of Robinson and Hamill won a tough three-setter over Masters sophomores Mehran Hicks and Robbie Kuster 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, while at No. 2, junior Ethan Pearce and freshman Wiley Vehslage won for the second day in a row, this time by the score of 6-4, 6-0. Shurr and Boniche beat senior Charles Smith and junior Jake Granoff, who did double duty, winning 6-4, 4-6, and 7-4 in the tiebreaker played as the deciding set.

The boys played a home match Tuesday afternoon after press time against Greens Farms Academy, and they wrap up the regular season on the road Saturday with a match at 1 p.m. against Canterbury.