By John Goralski
The rains were still threatening when the Blue Knight tennis team was warming up before their game with Rocky Hill. Players were still pushing water off a few courts while Coach Tony Mauro cautioned players to broadcast any slips.
But Mauro was determined to see how his team was going to fare after losing their first match of the season. He wasn’t about to let a little rain spoil the chance.
“A guy went by me on the street when it was still raining, and he told me that I couldn’t beat Mother Nature,” he said with a smile. “We got lucky. We got it in, but one shower would have killed us.”
The Knights responded with a 6-1 win. The next day, they clinched a postseason berth with a 6-1 win over Manchester, but Mauro is still trying to figure out how good his team really is.
The Knights started the week with a 7-0 win over NW Catholic on Monday. Kunal Kataria won his first set by tie breaker to clinch the victory at No. 1 singles. Nate Mullins, Grant Ogrin, and Luke Pfanzelt won in straight sets.
Alex Angelillo-Chris Hupper, Will Lefkovich-Ben Chasse, and Michael Balaoing-Rohan Kataria scored victories in doubles play, but the Knighs were tested the following day.
Ogrin and Pfanzelt were the only ones to win on Tuesday as the Knights slipped from the unbeaten ranks with a 5-2 loss in South Windsor. Alex Angelillo-Lefkovich lost their third set in a tie breaker, but everyone else lost in straight sets.
That’s why Mauro began cleaning the courts in the early afternoon during bouts of rain. Most outdoor sports were canceled, but the tennis team faced Rocky Hill. “I wanted to see how we’d respond,” said Mauro. “I really wanted to get this game in.”
His team responded with a 6-1 win over Rocky Hill. Mullins, Ogrin, and Pfanzelt won singles. Angelillo-Lefkovich, Balaoing-Kataria, and Chris Hupper-Ben Chasse won doubles.
On Thursday, the Knights secured a postseason bid with a 6-1 win over Manchester. Kataria, Mullins, Ogrin, and Pfanzelt swept singles play. Jacob Chasse-Ben Chasse and Balaoing-Brett Daigle won in doubles.
Now, the Knights will face their toughest challenge with a trio of perenial powers.
“I’m really intrigued about some of the games coming up,” said Mauro. “I’m really looking for another one of those 4-3 games against Farmington and Hall. Simsbury’s awesome and they’re undefeated, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t do the best we can do. Something could happen. We will play each point and each game. When it’s over, we’ll shake hands and go home.”