GREENWICH — Doubles play was a point of emphasis for the Greenwich High School boys tennis team during its spring break last week.
“Most of our doubles players were here on vacation practicing and playing every day,” Cardinals coach Richard Lane said following Tuesday’s match against rival Ridgefield. “We realize if we are going to win states, it’s going to come down to doubles. We have very talented singles players, so it’s going to come down to how our doubles players do.”
The extra time the Cardinals’ doubles teams spent on the court seemed to pay off on Tuesday.
Sweeping the three doubles matches, while splitting the four singles matchups, Greenwich registered an impressive 5-2 win over visiting FCIAC foe Ridgefield in winter-like weather conditions.
The Cardinals (3-0) received victories from Justin Speaker and Alican Beba at first and fourth singles and went 3-0 in doubles competition. The No. 1 singles match between Speaker and Tigers junior Luke Queiroz resembled a postseason duel, with both players exhibiting strong serves and punishing ground strokes.
Converting a key break point, Queiroz seized a 3-0 advantage in the first set and held a 5-4 lead. Yet Speaker rallied to win the opening set, 7-6 (2), then took the second set, 6-1.
“It was very key to get through the first set, because it set the tone for the rest of the match,” said Speaker, a sophomore. “He was at set point at 5-4 in the first set, so winning that first set turned the tide of the match.”
Speaker has focused on honing his skills the past two seasons, competing on the USTA junior circuit.
“I have been getting better over the course of the year, playing nationals and improving my ranking,” said Speaker, whose match against Queiroz ended in freezing rain. “My serve and volleys have gotten a lot better.”
At first doubles, juniors Nicholas Liu and Hayden Witmer displayed stellar chemistry in posting a 6-1, 6-4 win over Ridgefield senior Tanner Daubenspeck and freshman Noah Butler.
“To succeed in states, our doubles teams have to come through and today was a really big sign,” Lane said.
The senior duo of Alex Litt and Nick Dagnino won their match at second doubles for Greenwich, defeating junior Tadd Long and sophomore Seth Prusko, 6-3, 6-2.
Litt ended the match with an eye-opening backhanded volley.
“That’s the type of doubles point we like to get, it’s always nice to end a match like that,” Litt said. “I envision them having a strong team, so we should definitely see them in FCIACs and states.”
Said Dagnino: “We played very well, hopefully we can continue to play well throughout the season.”
Ridgefield (2-1) received a win from sophomore Brian Song at second singles. Song recorded a 6-4, 6-3 triumph against Greenwich freshman Caleb Fockens.
“It was windy today, which made it tough out there, but we both played really well and it was good to get the win,” Song said. “We have a lot of good players on our team — a lot of good freshman. It’s going to be a good season for us.”
Third doubles saw sophomores James Cosby and Stefan Brovig beat Ridgefield freshman Emmett O’Malley and senior Shane Bowler, 6-3, 6-4. The Greenwich duo’s playing styles complemented each other throughout the match.
Junior Alican Beba clinched the match for Greenwich when he defeated sophomore Ramiro Davila, 6-0, 3-6, 6-0.
“Determination in trying to win the point helped me in the first set,” said Beba, who successfully filled in for freshman Matthew Luzzi, who was out sick. “The third set, I had to bring my focus back into the game and tried my hardest to put my second serves in.”
Third singles was the final match off the court, as sophomore James Hoorihan took a 6-4, 7-6 (9-7) decision from GHS sophomore Matthew Tamis. The match played in snow at the end, lasted more than two hours.
“This gives me an idea and the team an idea of where we stand with one of the elite teams in the FCIAC,” Ridgefield coach Aaron Hyde said. “We had good singles matches on a windy, cold day, when it was tough to stay loose out there.”
GREENWICH 5, RIDGEFIELD 2
Records: Greenwich 3-0; Ridgefield 2-1. Singles: Justin Speaker (G) def. Luke Queiroz 7-6 (2), 6-1; Brian Song (R) def. Caleb Fockens 6-4, 6-3; James Hoorihan (R) def. Matthew Tamis 6-4, 7-6 (7); Alican Beba (G) def. Ramiro Davila 6-0, 3-6, 6-0. Doubles: Nicholas Liu/Hayden Witmer (G) def. Tanner Daubenpeck/Noah Butler 6-1, 6-4; Alex Litt/Nick Dagnino (G) def. Tadd Long/Seth Prusko 6-3, 6-2; James Cosby/Stefan Brovig (G) def. Emmett O’Malley/Shane Bowler 6-3, 6-4.