By BRIAN JENNINGS
A 7-0 loss at home to undefeated Glastonbury (17-0) on Wednesday, May 27 may have ended the Blue Knights’ (16-1) regular season, but it didn’t end their spirit. Southington coach Tony Mauro and his boys’ tennis team held their heads high and were anything but discouraged after they walked off the courts.
According to Mauro, he said that the season was, by no means, a disappointment, but a very successful one.
“This one wasn’t close in score, but I was satisfied with our performance,” said Mauro. “I think we’re ready to go into the tournament and do what we can do. But Glastonbury will be there, and there will be other players like them. I think our guys were pleased with the way they performed.”
Luke Pfanzelt and Zaya Oshana were the only Knights to force a third set against their opponents after battling to take the second set, both 6-3.
The Knights competed in the Class LL state tournament on Saturday at Hall High School and West Hartford. Part of the tournament was moved right down the street to the University of St. Joseph, due to Hall’s match with Pomperaug in the qualifying round of the girls Class L state tournament.
Out of four singles players and three doubles teams that entered the tournament, No.16-seed Kunal Kataria and his brother, Rohan Kataria, are the only Southington players left standing by defeating Fairfield Prep’s Theodore Allen-Jack Caserta after taking the first set and winning in a third-set tiebreaker, 6-3, 6-4, 10-8.
“The Kataria brothers did a good job,” said Southington coach Tony Mauro. “They’re never going to get a real opportunity in their lifetime to play a high school tournament together. That was a nice thing to see.”
They will advance to the second round to play Cheshire’s Abdullah Choudhry-David Light. No.17-seed Mike Balaoing had the only other win for Southington in the opening round of the tournament against Xavier’s Michael Higgins, 6-4, 6-3. However, Balaoing would later go down in the first round.
“I was happy with their performance,” said Mauro. “It’s another level of tennis. Those kids hit almost like pros. Fairfield County is in a world of its own compared to the rest of the state…Most of them are USTA players. Even though our kids had a good year, you can’t hold a candle to those kids down there. Those kids can play. They’re not just hitting the ball. They’re hitting it with a purpose. You have to tip your hat to them when they play like that.”
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.