Boys Tennis: Knights finish on high note

Marek Kryzanski unleashes a serve in a Class LL first round tournament match.

By KEVIN ROBERTS

STAFF WRITER

Southington boys tennis finished off the regular season with a pair of 7-0 home victories over Rocky Hill on May 21 and Conard on May 22. The Blue Knights moved on to the Class LL singles and doubles tournaments in West Hartford this past Friday and Saturday. Southington did have some success in the tournament, though no one got past the second round.

“The focus and determination to give it their all stood out the most among our players. I am very pleased with their efforts,” coach Tony Mauro said.

The Knights lose seniors Matt Balaoing, Mike Kwok, Nate Zmarlicki and D.J. Pestillo to graduation.

“We will miss our seniors in 2020. They all were top-shelf players and captains,” Mauro said.

Balaoing came from behind to win a first round singles match against Staples’ Brandon Felcher, 0-6, 6-2, 10-5. In the second round, Balaoing battled but lost, 6-2, 6-1, to ninth-seeded George James of Trumbull.

“In his matches, Matt was moving his opponent around and controlling the baseline,” Mauro said. “He was very composed as always.”

Junior Marek Kryzanski also won a first round singles match, 1-6, 6-0, 10-8, over West Haven’s Joseph Delgado. Mauro said Kryzanski is improving in all aspects of his game, and it was the patience of the junior that won out against Delgado.

“I definitely played a lot better in the second set, I was more controlled. I think I was hitting better second set,” Kryzanski said. “It came to the tiebreak. I was nervous, but I knew I could get the job done. It was close. The other kid’s good, he’s not a bad player, I think we were evenly matched, and I just took the win.”

Kryzanski was eliminated by No. 15 seed Taishi Hosokowa of Norwalk, 6-3, 6-2.

Juniors Andrew Kudla and Kade Huang-Savino each won a preliminary round singles match to get into the first round. Kudla defeated Westhill’s Shiloh Williamson, 8-6, and Huang-Savino won over East Hartford’s Indi Rakakomuo, 8-1. Kudla and Huang-Savino both lost first round matches against seeded opponents. Top-seeded Andrew Ilie of Trumbull beat Kudla, 6-1, 6-0. Sixth-seeded Justin Speaker of Greenwich eliminated Huang-Savino, 6-0, 6-0. Both earned valuable state tournament experience.

“Andrew and Kade are very fast and mobile on the court. They literally outrun their mistakes,” Mauro said.

In doubles, Kwok and Zmarlicki were ousted in the first round by the talented Staples duo of Jason Katz and Adam Greenlee Jr., 6-0, 6-1. Kwok and Zmarlicki said they knew they were in trouble, and they were just trying to enjoy their final match together.

The other two Southington doubles teams lost in third set super tiebreakers in the first round. Juniors Tyler Heidgerd and Jacob Sutton lost the first set to Amity’s Gabriel Sabatelli and Jonathan Schachter, 6-4. Heidgerd and Sutton rallied to win the second set, 7-6(8), but Sabatelli and Schachter won the super tiebreaker, 11-9.

Junior Adam Kosko and sophomore Kyle Naworol lost the first set to Fairfield Warde’s Alexander Cusick and Jake Manley, 6-4. Kosko and Naworol rallied to win the second set, 7-5, but Cusick and Manley took the super tiebreaker, 10-3.

“All the doubles teams left it all on the courts,” Mauro said. “In any tiebreak situation—set or match—it’s 50-50 sudden death and anyone can win it.”

Mauro said he would rather see the boys have a chance to play in a team tournament, then have an individual open tournament. At times, however, Southington’s players showed they could hang with the big boys in Class LL.

“We can hang with them, we just have to keep working hard every year,” Kryzanski said.

Regular season wrap-up

Southington defeated Rocky Hill on May 21 and Conard on May 22 to close the regular season with a record of 15-4.

Rocky Hill was scheduled for a doubleheader on May 21, so single pro sets (first to eight, win by two points) were played. Balaoing, Kryzanski, Kudla and Huang-Savino won singles matches. The Knights picked up doubles wins from the teams of Zmarlicki and Kwok; Kosko and Naworol; and Heidgerd and Jacob Sutton.

Against Conard, Balaoing, Kryzanski, Kudla and Huang-Savino won singles matches. The Knights picked up doubles wins from the teams of Zmarlicki and Kwok; Naworol and Kosko; and Heidgerd and Pestillo. It was Senior Day, and seniors Balaoing, Zmarlicki, Kwok and Pestillo were recognized.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com

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