By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Blue Knights (4-0) boys tennis team showed their resiliency during the week with three wins in three days with a bump in the road along the way.
After opening the season up with a shutout on the road at Windsor, the Knights returned back to their home court and kept it going through the blustery wind on Wednesday, April 22 as they defeated the Bristol Central Rams, 7-0.
“The wind tends to even out the ability of certain players,” said Southington coach Tony Mauro. “The way we started out at one singles, he went down three-love right off the bat. Then he won nine games in a row and the kid was a good player. I thought the other guys were hitting the ball well, but I think our guys got it.”
No.1 singles player Kunal Kataria led the Knights’ winning in straight sets, 6-3, 6-0, over Bristol Central’s Nick Savino. Luke Pfanzelt and Grant Ogrin won. Zaya Oshana moved over to the No.4 singles spot from playing doubles last match and swept Bristol Central’s Weston Marshall in straight sets, 6-0, 6-0.
All three doubles teams for the Knights matched that pace. No.1 doubles duo Rohan Kataria and Mike Balaoing powered the charge with a 6-0, 6-0 over Bristol Central’s Brian Achim and Sean Suitor. Ben Chasse-Jacob Chasse and Brett Daigle-Erik Kryzanski won in straight sets.
“I like the way the guys are practicing,” the coach said. “They’re competing and that’s all I want. Bristol Central shows very good sportsmanship too. I’ll remember the day when they’re clobbering us. I’ll try to be as sportsmanlike as they are.”
The Knights took a trip to the eastern part of the state in Storrs the next day to pay a visit to the EO Smith Panthers (1-3).
Southington dropped two matches for the first time this season and had some trouble getting out of the gates early. However, the Knights were able to hang on and get past the Panthers, 5-2, with different faces stepping up – and some help from the doubles teams in the end.
“I thought it was a good measuring stick, and it was a very positive outcome,” said Mauro. “Their one and two singles were extremely good. Hall, who we consider to be our number one opponent to beat in the in the West Division, beat EO Smith, 4-3. We beat EO Smith, 5-2, so this is very encouraging.”
It wasn’t the No.1 or 2 singles players, but it was Ogrin at No.3 singles that led the Knights with a 6-1, 6-2 win over EO Smith’s Joey Marallsi. Oshana backed Ogrin with a close, 6-3, 6-4, win over EO Smith’s Quentin Walliser at No. 4.
The Knights doubles won all three of their matches without dropping a set again, and that clinched the contest. Rohan Kataria-Balaoing, Chasse-Chasse, and Daigle-Kryzanski won in straight sets. The Chasse brothers proved to be the strongest for the Knights, winning their match in straight sets, 6-0, 6-1, over EO Smith’s Luke Bladen and Cody Deregar.
The Knights returned home for a match against the Fermi Falcons (0-4) on Friday. The Knights had a much better showing in the wind and were able to cruise to a 7-0 win, which was their third shutout thus far.
Kunal Kataria defeated Fermi’s Alex Coffey, 6-2, 6-2 in straight sets. Pfanzelt swept Fermi’s No. 2 single Colin Wright in straight sets, 6-0, 6-0. Ogrin and Oshana won easily.
Two Knights’ doubles teams swept in two matches, and the third won by forfeit. Rohan Kataria and Balaoing defeated Fermi’s Jordan Demaine, 6-0, 6-0, with the Chasse brothers winning over Fermi’s Danny Ravens and Seth Courchesne, 6-0, 6-0.
The Knights hope to stay perfect this week with a tough, home test against the Conard Chieftains (5-0).