Boys Tennis Zhang, Wave claim FCIAC title
WILTON — Darien High School sophomore Ethan Zhang saw a Blue Wave of teammates sprinting toward him immediately after winning the final point of his match at fourth singles in the FCIAC championship against rival Staples.
Zhang was enthusiastically swarmed by his Blue Wave teammates clad in blue shirts, as they celebrated a long-awaited victory.
For the first time since the 1989 season, Darien can call itself ‘FCIAC boys tennis champions.’
Receiving two singles and doubles victories, second-seeded captured its first FCIAC tennis title in 30 years, defeating five-time defending conference champion Staples, before a large, spirited gathering at Wilton High School.
A 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over Staples’ Jack Tooker at fourth singles was the match clincher for Darien, which led 3-2, prior to Zhang’s victory.
“It means everything to me, because I don’t even know when the last time Darien won,” Zhang said. “We have been preparing our entire season for this and for all of us, prior years for this moment. It means everything to our team. There was a lot of pressure on me, so I tried to keep calm, no matter what was happening around me.”
The Blue Wave went ahead in the match, 4-3, when Sergei Doroshin, a senior, and freshman Andrew Kelley posted a 7-5, 7-5 win against Adam Greenlee and Luke Brodsky at No. 3 doubles.
“This feels really great and humbling that we finally won in 30 years,” Doroshin. “We came in as a team and won with energy, passion and determination. Our opponents were really good, but we persevered. This year, we knew was our year.”
Added Kelley: “Sergei and I have trained hard all year long, we worked so hard strategizing for this.”
The first match that was completed was the No. 1 doubles matchup between Darien’s Romano DeCaprio and Chris Calderwood. They teamed up to beat the Wreckers’ formidable duo of Jake Greenwald and Bradley Sheppard 6-2, 6-1. Showcasing standout play at the net and solid serving, they were able to dictate a lot of points.
“Staples is a great opponent and we always want to get on them as fast as we can,” DeCaprio. “We got the break early were able to close them out. We tried to control the pace and timing.”
Said Calderwood: “We’ve been great partners, our chemistry is great. Due to our great team we have proven ourselves to be good doubles partners.”
Darien’s second win of the match came from senior Michael Karr, who continued his outstanding season at first singles. Using his booming groundstrokes, Karr was victorious against Staples senior Ben Stein, 6-3, 6-0.
“First set I was a little bit tight, but I was able to get the break when I needed to, I was able to take care of business on my serve,” Karr said. “Getting the first set was huge, it allows you to gain breathing room and gives you momentum in the second set.”
Said Stein: “Darien just brought their best tennis and we brought our best tennis, they just came up ahead in the big points. It’s always great to win, but at the same time they are a very good team, we just have to credit them.”
Staples got a singles win from Tighe Brunetti at third singles, who topped Nick Derby, 6-3, 6-1. The Wreckers’ No. 2 doubles squad of Sam Lampert/Jason Katz won their match against Tyler Cramer/Ian Wise, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Hugh Underhill, Darien’s coach, was received the FCIAC Coach of the Year Award following the match.
“This is especially rewarding for our team to give our school a championship win,” Underhill said. “I felt this team had the potential to do something very special at the beginning of the season, but we didn’t talk about it too much. What they accomplished today was so impressive.”