To say it was a long time coming would be a huge understatement.
The Staples boys tennis program has a resume of success that most teams would die for.
But with all the victories and all the accolades over the decades, the Wreckers had just one hole in the vast narrative.
The FCIAC boys tennis championship.
Staples had no trouble getting to the FCIAC final.
The Wreckers were FCIAC runnerup nine times since 2003, including 2010-13.
The impediment was always Greenwich, an 11-time FCIAC boys tennis champion since 2002.
But this year, Staples slew that ghost, ousting the Cardinals 4-3 in the semifinals.
The last obstacle in Staples' path Thursday was Ridgefield, making its first-ever appearance in the FCIAC final.
The last step is the hardest one. But Staples seniors Baxter Stein and Connor Mitnick rallied from a set down at No. 1 doubles to grab a 6-7, 6-2, 6-0 triumph over Ridgefield's Tal Nizan and Ryan Brucato to give the Wreckers a 4-3 win and the elusive title.
"I'm so happy. I'm at a loss for words. But this is AMAZING," said Staples' fifth-year head coach Kris Hrisovulos. "This group has come such a long way this season. Having this title is a great relief."
And so, Staples had the perfect ending to a perfect FCIAC campaign. That's 21-0 if you're scoring at home.
"I can't describe the feeling. Happiness, excitement, relief," Staples' Mitnick said. "This is my best moment ever on a tennis court. My high school career is complete. We did this for ALL of us."
It should not be surprising that it came down to the third set in the last match for Staples to earn its elusive title. Even though Staples beat Ridgefield, 7-0 in the regular season. Read Full Article
But the Tigers made the most of their first time in the FCIAC finals. Bryson Mosley won 6-2, 6-2 at No. 1 singles. Tommy Knortz won 6-1, 7-5 at No. 3 singles while Hans Reuter and Owen Isley won 7-5, 6-4 at No. 2 doubles to forge a 3-3 deadlock.
"It was the last FCIAC match of my career. I wanted to give it my all," said Mosley, who will attend the University of Texas in the fall. "My plan was get to the net and put my foot on the gas. My backhands down the line and my forehand in were my best shots."
"To take Staples to the last set after 7-0 in the regular season, I'm so proud of my team," said Ridgefield coach Brad Harrington. "Effort is all you can ask for. This was a great showing. I did change the lineup hopefully we'd challenge in the doubles for the title and we did."
Youth was served on Staples' side as sophomore Will Andrews (No. 4 singles), freshman Max Zimmerman (No. 5 singles) and junior Zack Levin (No. 2 singles) contributed victories.
But it was Staples seniors Mitnick and Stein who put the bow on the Wreckers' FCIAC title plaque.
"I had lost in the finals three times on this court. But myself (and Jason Chaskin) won the deciding point in the semifinals over Greenwich. So I drew on that experience in the third set," Stein said. "Kris (Head coach Hrisovolus) gave us a great talk after we lost the first set. That fired us up."
The Staples seniors had posted a 78-5 record over four seasons. They were 3-5 against Greenwich. That's 73-0 versus the rest of the FCIAC.
The awards ceremony was special. The championship plaque went home with Hrisovolus. The individual medals were equally precious.
"This medal is staying on my neck as long as possible," Mitnick laughed.
Staples 4, Ridgefield 3
(at Wilton HS courts)
Singles: Bryson Mosley (R) def. Luke Foreman, 6-2, 6-2; Zack Levin (S) def. Patrick Sheehan-Delany, 6-2, 7-5; Tommy Knortz (R) def. Josh Moskovitz, 6-1, 7-5; Will Andrews (S) def. Andrew Mercorella, 6-1, 6-1; Max Zimmerman (S) def. Keillor Mose, 6-2, 6-0; Doubles: Connor Mitnick/ Baxter Stein (S) def. Tal Nizan/ Ryan Brucato, 6-7, 6-2, 6-0*; Hans Reuter/Owen Isley (R) def. Sterling Price/ Jason Chaskin, 7-5, 6-4. *deciding match. Records: Staples 21-0; Ridgefield 16-3. Highlights: S -- Staples' first FCIAC title since winning in 1999-2001.