By BRIAN JENNINGS
On Saturday, May 26, the Blue Knight tennis team advanced a pair of singles players and a doubles teams a couple of rounds after qualifying a maximum of 10 players for the state tournament at Hall High School in West Hartford. Southington coach Tony Mauro said that the state tournament makes for a long day, and it was almost predicable having any of this players advance as far as the second round.
“We leave the high school at seven o’clock, and it has to be after six or seven by the time we come home,” said Mauro. “It’s hot and absolutely draining. It’s tiring.”
Nevertheless, Mauro said that he was happy with his team’s performances.
“We held our own and battled right in there,” said Mauro. “There are a lot of good players there. It’s a big group of players that is really outstanding. There’s lot of quality there.”
Seventeenth-seeded Matthew Balaoing advanced the farthest in the singles bracket for the Knights. In the first round, he defeated Riyad Al-Bakri (West Haven) in straight sets without dropping a game. However, his run came to an end after he fell in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3, to No. 13 George James (Trumbull).
“I’m pleased with him throughout the whole season to finish at 14-2 outside of the tournament,” said Mauro. “That’s the highest I’ve had in the 12 years of a No. 1 player. I’m very pleased with him, and he’s going to up his game to work more on his game and work toward being be the best that he can be.”
Andrew Kudla also went a couple of rounds. As the fourth-ranked player in the qualifying round, he defeated Louis Guzzi (Fairfield Prep) by a pair of points in a pro set, 10-8. He eventually fell in straight sets to No. 5 Luke Queiroz (Ridgefield), 6-0, 6-0, in the first round.
“If you’re going to be in the qualifiers, you’re going to run into the top seeds right off the hop,” said Mauro. “But he battled, and it was an exciting match. There’s was a lot of noise from the fan’s part because they were into it.”
Tyler Heidgerd fell in straight sets, 6-2, 6-0, to Jack Davis (Fairfield Warde) in the first round, and Nathalan Zmarlicki fell in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1, to No. 9 Kion Bruno (Staples), suffering a loss in the first round as well.
Fourteenth-seeded Kevin Chudy-Jonathan Kryzanski advanced the furthest out of Southington’s three doubles tandems. They defeated Zach Ciampi-Kevin Smatko (Xavier) in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1, in the first round, but eventually fell in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2, to Neev Suryawanshi-Shiloh Williamson (Westhill) in the second round.
Adam Kosko-Kajetan Naworol fell in straight sets, 6-2, 6-0, to No. 15 James Cosby-James Papas (Greenwich) in the first round, and Michael Kwok-Marek Kryzanski fell in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2, to Joseph Campos-Emmett O’Malley (Ridgefield) in the first round.
Staples beat out Greenwich to win the Class LL title. No. 2 Andrew Ilie (Trumbull) outlasted top-seeded Evan Felcher (Staples) in three sets, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, to win the Class LL singles title, and No. 3 Taishi Hosokawa-Prem Dave (Norwalk) upset top-seeded Eric Greenberg-Jack Tooker (Staples) in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3, to win the Class LL doubles title.
The Knights are losing five seniors to graduation after this season, including Kevin Chuddy and Jonathan Kryzanski.
For more in depth coverage, see our weekly print edition. To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.