By John Goralski
Coach Tony Mauro has trouble hiding his disappointement when asked about the upcoming state tournament, but it has nothing to do with his team.
The Blue Knight tennis team met all of his pre-season goals with a 7-0 win over Fermi and a 4-3 loss to RHAM in the final week. The coach expected his team to win about 60 percent of their matches, and they finished at 11-8 (.579).
It’s not his team that upsets the coach. It’s the postseason format.
“I’m really not a fan of the format,” he said about the bracket-style playoff that differs from the girls tennis team-style system. “Being an individual tournament, it makes things tough for our young guys. It really doesn’t give you a good gauge.”
Southington competed in both of their final matches. On Monday, they swept Fermi, 7-0. On Tuesday, they were just edged, 4-3, by a senior-laden RHAM team.
Nate Mullins and Luke Pfanzelt won both their singles matches. Alex Angelillo and Grant Ogrin won both their matches at doubles. Kunal Kataria and Kevin Wormer captured singles victories against Fermi. Gary Beaumont-Will Lefkovich and Chris Hupper-Wyatt Lavoie both captured wins at doubles.
“Overall, I’m pleased with the team,” Mauro said about his young team that only fields three seniors. “I thought they matured. Their games matured, and they showed more assertiveness.”
And that sets the stage for the postseason. Mauro doesn’t expect his young players to battle into the later rounds. He expects to use this as a springboard into next season. Experience and maturity continue to be the goals.
“I just want them to get through the first rounds. If they get through the preliminary rounds I’ll be happy,” he said. “I want them to get some good experience. I want them to see the level of play, and I want them to keep their composure whether they’re winning or losing. To be perfectly honest with you, the outcome of the match is secondary. I want them to improve like they did all year.”
And Mauro will continue to wonder what would happen in a team playoff…