By BRIAN JENNINGS
After Southington entered four singles players and three doubles teams into the Class LL tournament at Yale University in New Haven on Saturday, May 27, only one Blue Knight is left after the first day.
No. 15 Matt Balaoing advanced to the third round of the singles tournament with wins in straight sets over Hamden’s Justyn Wongwiwat (6-0, 6-0) in the first round and Glastonbury’s Jameson Corey (6-4, 6-3) in the second round.
Matt Balaoing’s brother, Mike, had fell in straight sets to Corey during the regular season. But after Southington coach Tony Mauro saw Matt Balaoing have his turn with Corey, he came away with the feeling that it was the best performance he had ever seen out of a Southington High School boys tennis player in the 11 years he coached the team.
“He not only managed the court well, but his shot selection, shot tolerance, execution, versatile shot making, and composure for a sophomore was remarkable,” said Mauro. “His coach, Wint Filapek, did a super job with his game.”
Balaoing will now face top-seeded Evan Felcher of Staples in the third round, which is set to begin on Tuesday, May 30. Matches are scheduled to start at 1 p.m. at Yale. But win or lose, Mauro said that he is confident Matt Balaoing will continue to improve in the next couple of years and will not be surprised to see even more from him.
“It’s difficult to predict an outcome for this encounter,” said Mauro. “But one thing we can be sure of is that he is an intelligent and absolute warrior. He is the only player remaining because his quality of play at this event is so high. The kids in this tournament are really something to see, in all tennis departments.”
Three of Southington’s original entrants were unable to play in the tournament. Two of the three placements were first-year players.
Freshman Marek Kryzanski filled in for Nate Zmarlicki and defeated No. 4 Peter Haley of Fairfield Prep, 8-3, in the opening round, falling lost in straight sets to No. 4 Alex Ruenhorst of Shelton in the first round. Freshman Tyler Heidgerd filled in for Mike Loose and teamed up with Turner Rodman, as the pair fell in straight sets to No. 7 Frank Fortunati and Nash Lovallo of Fairfield Prep in the first round.
Mike Kwok replaced Mike Balaoing and fell to West Haven’s Oreoluwa Olowe in straight sets in the first round. No. 8 Erik Kryzanski defeated Fairfield Prep’s Henry Seiden, 8-1, in the opening round, but fell in straight sets to No. 3 Max Zimmerman of Staples in the first round.
Kevin Chudy and Jon Kryzanski earned Southington’s only doubles win on the day with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Xavier’s Eduardo Basauri and Alex Bonaiuto in the first round. Their day ended after falling in straight sets to No. 11 Brian Donahue and Steven Westfahl of Fairfield Prep in the second round. Sam Johnson and Mike Listro fell in straight sets to No. 12 Tanner Daubenspeck and Tadd Long of Ridgefield in the first round.
“I am pleased with all of our players’ performances in this event,” said Mauro. “They played the game the way it is supposed to be played. I could not ask for more.”
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2017/05/30/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-june-2-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.