After experiencing its first loss of the season last Thursday against Westhill, the Greenwich High School boys tennis team was intent on getting right back on the winning track when Wilton came to town on Monday for a key FCIAC match.
It took supreme efforts from several players, but the Cardinals did just that, raising their 2022 record to an impressive 12-1 in the process.
Winning two singles matches and two doubles matchups, Greenwich edged visiting Wilton, 4-3, Monday.
“That’s been the secret this year between Staples, Darien and Wilton,” said Greenwich coach Ray Marschall, whose squad beat all three rivals. “We won two of the four singles matches and two of the three doubles matches.”
Against the Warriors (8-3), the Cardinals were victorious at first and fourth singles and first and second doubles. At first singles, Cardinals junior Dylan Atkinson posted a 6-4, 6-4 victory against Wilton senior Dylan Koziol.
In the first set in the No. 1 singles matchup, Koziol took a 2-0 lead after holding serve, then breaking, but Atkinson came back nicely, converting a pair of key break points.
“Both sets he was up a break, immediately going ahead, 2-0,” said Atkinson, who played at the No. 2 singles spot last season. At that point, I wasn’t serving that well, I wasn’t getting my returns on the court and I wasn’t able to get the points started. Later in the set, I started to step in and take advantage of the balls he was hitting and just pound away.”
Using his impressive groundstrokes, Atkinson hit several clutch forehand winners, painting the lines while doing so. His serve also aided his comeback.
“I ended up serving the best I have all year,” Atkinson said. “I’m just super happy with the way I played. He’s a great player, I lost to him last year and I’m glad I got it back this year.”
Senior Yuta Kawamura of the Cardinals dropped a 6-3, 6-3 decision to Wilton sophomore Akhil Vallabhajosula at No. 2 singles.
“We both played really well,” Kawamura said. “His serve was just better than mine. I was only able to break one of his service games and I also lost four of my service games. That was the reason why I lost. We both played a really good match.”
Overall, Kawamura has been consistent at No. 2 for the Cards, registering a number of decisive victories.
“This year, I have been trying to be more consistent and it’s working,” he said. “Everything is getting better and I want to keep this energy and momentum going.”
Warriors junior Jackson Carbonier pulled out a come-from-behind win against GHS sophomore Harrison Wolfe at third singles, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, while Cardinals junior David Karetsky was a 7-5, 6-2 winner over freshman Henry Dyer.
“I think it was my serve and volley that made the difference,” Karetsky said. “In the beginning, my opponent was controlling the match a lot more than I was and I just started playing my game and that changed the whole match.”
Defeating Wilton kept Greenwich in first place in the FCIAC and went a long way toward securing the No. 1 seed in the rapidly approaching FCIAC Tournament.
“It’s been a pretty successful year, except our last match against Westhill and I think today was a good bounce back win,” Karetsky said. “We realized that today was a win for first seed in the FCIAC and if we lost it would mean our seed was uncertain, so it’s nice to get back on the winning track. We’re looking forward to the FCIACs.”
Said Marschall: “David is new to the team, this is his first real varsity season as a junior. Win or lose, he is so modest and he is so low key. He has played very consistently and he has changed his game in the middle of almost every single match. The matches he played against Darien and Staples, he changed his game.”
Greenwich’s doubles wins against Wilton came at No. 2 and No. 3. The freshman tandem of Rohan Mittal and Ishan Ambastha topped Wilton, 7-6, (0), 6-4 at the second spot, while sophomore Tristan Sowter and freshman Manuel Galli Specos were 7-6 (6), 6-4 winners against their Wilton foes at No. 3. At the No. 1 spot, Cardinals juniors Cai Jain and Nick O’Brien played well in their match, against Wilton’s Samuel Gioffre and Alexander Reyes, which won, 4-6, 6-0, 6-1.
Greenwich’s lone loss this season came against host Westhill last Thursday, 5-2.
“The season is fairly long, it’s very rigorous,” Marschall said. “I think I counted 41 AP exams among the entire team, so these guys are taking three-hour, four-hour tests and then they have to play a match the next day or the same day, that’s tough. So I think everything came together and you combine that with the fact that Westhill is a very tough team. They are very skilled, they were extremely patient. They are very deep, they have many players that can play singles and doubles.”
Today, Greenwich went on the road and swept St. Joseph, 7-0, in Trumbull to raise their record to 13-1.
Galli Specos got the start at first singles for the Cards and won, 6-0, 6-1.
Ambastha was victorious at second singles, 6-0, 6-0, while Sowter (No. 3) and sophomore Yuta Takahashi also notched 6-0, 6-0 wins.
O’Brien and Lucas Piccininno (No. 1), Mittal/Wolfe (No. 2) and
Karetsky/Alex Salib (No. 3) were each 6-0, 6-0 winners in doubles competition.