With a deep, talented singles and doubles lineup and home court advantage, the Greenwich High School boys tennis team is poised to make a strong run toward the CIAC Class LL Tournament title.
The first step toward reaching their ultimate team goal came Tuesday for the second-seeded Cardinals, as they hosted No. 15 Southington in the opening round of the Class LL Tournament.
And Greenwich impressively took that first step.
Winning each match in straight sets, No. 2 Greenwich topped Southington, 7-0, to advance to today’s quarterfinal-round against visiting Hall, the No. 7 seed.
The Cardinals wasted little time in defeating Southington in 90 degree-plus heat, as each competitor was in top form. At first singles, junior Dylan Atkinson continued his successful season, defeating Alex Roy of Southington, 6-0, 6-0.
“I started pretty strong and finished pretty strong,” said Atkinson, a mainstay at first singles for the Cardinals this spring. “I had control of the match, I tried to take advantage of all the shots and I served really well. So overall, I’m happy with how I played.”
The significance of having home court advantage is not lost on the Cardinals. They are hosting today’s match against Hall and should they win, they will also play host to the winner of third-seeded Glastonbury and sixth-seeded Westhill in Thursday’s Class LL semifinals.
“It’s pretty big, it would have been a long bus ride if we weren’t at home today,” Atkinson said. “I’m glad we have home court advantage, so we feel lucky about that.”
Second singles saw senior Yuta Kawamura of Greenwich post a 6-1, 6-0 victory against Pranav Vunnava. Kawamura was in control throughout, hitting his shots with good pace, while exhibiting a strong serve.
Sophomore Harrison Wolfe was dominant in his No. 3 singles match for GHS, sweeping his Southington foe, 6-0, 6-0.
“I feel like my opponent was giving me short balls that I could move in on, so I could end the points quickly, so I didn’t have to play many long points,” Wolfe noted.
At fourth singles, David Karetsky, a junior, also recorded a 6-0, 6-0 triumph for the Cards, who received outstanding efforts from their doubles teams as well.
Cardinals juniors Cai Jain and Nick O’Brien coasted to a 6-0, 6-1 win over Raymond Hardy-Dante Napolitano at No. 1 doubles. The Greenwich duo has excelled at the top doubles spot for the Cards throughout the season.
At No. 2, the freshman tandem of Rohan Mittal and Ishan Ambastha were 6-1, 6-0 winners for Greenwich.
“We just tried to play as consistently as we could and now we are ready for tomorrow,” Mittal said. “We’ve been playing pretty well.”
“It wasn’t the most difficult match, but I feel like we have a tougher road ahead, so we have to focus in on that and just do our best,” Ambastha noted.
The No. 4 doubles match saw sophomore Tristan Sowter and freshman Manuel Galli Specos cruise to a 6-0, 6-1 victory.
If Greenwich gets past Hall today, they could play Westhill for a third time this season if the Vikings beat Glastonbury in the quarterfinals. Westhill has dealt Greenwich its only two losses of the season.
“It was a tough loss to Westhill,” Atkinson said. “They’re on the other side of the bracket, so hopefully, we’ll match up with them again. Hopefully for us, the third time is the charm. Our team is motivated to keep going and pushing through states.”
“I think we just have to all be ready and hydrate and take every match seriously and keep on going,” Wolfe said.