Great moments were in abundance Wednesday as history was made by a number of players at the CIAC state boys tennis singles and doubles championship finals at the Yale University outdoor courts.
The most intriguing match of the overcast but breezy afternoon came in the Class LL doubles final.
Baxter Stein and Connor Mitnick of Staples rallied from one set down to defeat Greenwich High's Shaw Speer and Louis Mckenzie, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
The victory also gave Staples the Class LL team title by one point over Greenwich.
"The stars were aligned again," said Stein, who combined with Mitnick for the deciding point in Staples' FCIAC championship triumph over Ridgefield to complete an undefeated 2014 campaign for the Wreckers.
"If you had told Connor and I that we'd score the clinching point for two titles in our senior year, we'd say that's unreal. We had confidence. And we just played our hearts out."
"To do this against Greenwich is amazing," Mitnick said. "For years, Greenwich killed us. They owned us. I lost to that doubles team (with a different partner) three times before this. So to win this and the LL team title means so much more to us."
It came down to one service break in each of the three sets.
"We came out strong. But we couldn't get the break we wanted in the last two sets," said Speer, who will play tennis at Colby College in Maine this fall. "Louis (McKenzie) and I are happy to have reached the LL doubles final. We came close in a lot of games today but we couldn't finish."
The level of tennis throughout had the raucous cheering sections jazzed to the end.
"Even though we lost the first set, we knew we were doing the right things," Stein said. "We didn't change strategy. We just took it a point at a time to slow things down. We won the big points. It was our last high school tennis match forever so nerves weren't a factor. We've been playing big matches in big spots for a long time."
In the Class LL singles final, Xavier freshman and No. 5 seed Rich Ciamarra completed a dream week with a 6-3, 6-0 triumph over Ridgefield senior Bryson Mosley.
"It was just hard work," Ciamarra said. "Mosley wanted to come to the net and my passing shot is one of my best shots. Being champ hasn't hit me yet."
"I surpassed my expectations for the season. I never dreamed I'd be in the state singles final," said Mosley, who will play tennis at the University of Texas in the fall. "Ciamarra was just too good. There was nothing I could do out there. He should go to Florida and turn pro. I wish I had that much raw talent. My only two losses all season were to state champions." Read Full Article
Indeed. Mosley's other loss was to Wilton's Noah Farrell.
Farrell made history by winning the Class L singles crown, 6-4, 6-3 over Scott Rubenstein of Daniel Hand, making him a 4-time boys tennis singles state champion.
"It's a dream come true. It's the perfect end to a special year. I'm so happy to do it before friends and family," said Farrell, who will play tennis at Middlebury College in the fall. "Scott (Rubenstein) and I are good friends. We've played doubles together or singles against each other since age 8.
"The key was to attack. Move Scott around the court. Get him on the run," Farrell continued. "I had cramped up in the last few games of my semifinal match. The cramps came back in the last game today. I was fortunate we had short rallies."
Rubenstein did help Daniel Hand win the Class L team title.
"Hand tied for the title last year so to win it outright this year in my senior year means a lot," Rubenstein said. "I've always had more luck playing Noah indoors than outdoors in the elements."
In the Class LL doubles final, it was another tense classic as No. 1 seeds Connor Doyle and Alex Slobin of Ludlowe outfought the No. 2 team Andrew Penchuk and Alex Merjian of New Canaan, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.
In the Class M singles final, Bradley Orban of Foran High joined Farrell in the elite club of 4-time state singles champions.
Orban downed Dan Rombola of Berlin for the second straight year in the finals, 6-2, 6-2.
"It's a special accomplishment to me. It's been a long road to get here," said Orban, who will play tennis for the incomparable coach Ed Paige at Fairfield University in the fall. "This was what I wanted all year. To finish my high school career strong."
"I think I competed better this year than last year in the finals. But Bradley is such a great player," Rombola said. "He played a smarter match than I did. I look forward to the State Open next week."