WEST HARTFORD >> Guilford’s Evan Powell and Branford’s Matt Sachs have been friends for years — a friendship built around tennis as members at the Guilford Racquet Club, then as opponents for their respective high schools.
The two seniors didn’t meet during the regular season finale on May 18. But they did get one last chance to face off in Thursday’s Class M state singles final.
Powell, the top seed, swept third-seeded Sachs 6-3, 6-1 at Conard High School.
“I’ve probably played 65 to 70 sets against him plenty,” Sachs said. “It’s normally the guy who plays better that day. We’ve trained for two or three years together, he’s a good friend of mine.”
It’s Powell’s second straight singles title — he won Class L last season.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I’m really happy I got to win the M tournament,” said Powell, who will not play in the State Open beginning Saturday. “It’s really exciting. There was a lot of pressure on myself to do well. I’m happy I ended like this.”
Sachs missed that regular-season matchup with a back injury. He was healthy in time for the start of this tournament.
“All I said was, ‘Try to get on the other side of the bracket (from Powell),” said, who will participate in the Open. “I wanted to try and meet him in the final. I didn’t want to get ahead of myself, but I expected it.”
Joining Sachs at the Open will be teammates Miles Conlin and Daniel O’Neil. The ninth-seeded duo swept No. 3 Eric Benninghoff and Ishan Mirchandanil from Weston 7-6 (4), 6-3 to take home the Class M doubles championship.
“For Miles and I, it feels really great to finally finish it off our senior year,” O’Neill said. “I think we deserved a better seed. I noticed kids we beat in the off-season (tournaments) had a better seed than us.”
In the Class LL singles final, Greenwich’s William Blumberg blitzed 2014 champion Rich Ciamarra of Xavier 6-1, 6-0. This was Ciamarra’s third straight appearance in the LL final.
Ciamarra, a junior, fell to 17-1 this season. Blumberg, one of the top juniors in the country, was home-schooled until coming to Greenwich High in January. He has his sights set on competing in two notable tournaments this summer in the junior division: Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
“It was a really good environment. My friends were here, my teammates were here, my girlfriend was here, so I had a lot of good support all-around and played awesome,” said Blumberg, who will play at North Carolina in the fall.
The Class L singles final was not held Thursday — and it’s unclear when it will be held.
Career/Hillhouse junior Roy Smith, the No. 1 seed who was a Class L semifinalist as a freshman while attending Notre Dame-West Haven, arrived in plenty of time to play, but opponent Bobby Neuner of Darien arrived 45 minutes later than the scheduled start time due to a major traffic jam.
By the time Neuner arrived, Smith was departing. He had a prom to attend Thursday, according to CIAC tournament officials.
Kimm Fisher, Smith’s coach, said the hope is the match can be played Wednesday at the Connecticut Tennis Center in New Haven. The State Open finals will be held there that day. Smith is not competing in the Open.
This was Jonathan Miller’s second straight trip to the Class S state singles tennis final. It’s not hard for the Housatonic Regional senior to recall the first trip.
“In last year’s final, I was up a set and a break and let that slip away,” Miller said. “I’m not the best closer. I’m very good at coming back and very good at blowing leads.”
On Thursday, Miller didn’t need a comeback. He closed out St. Bernard’s Alex Zuczek in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3, at Conard High.
The top-seeded Miller, who hopes to plat at Division III Pomona College in Claremont, California, next season, didn’t drop a single set during the tournament. Neither did Zuczek, who plays out of St. Bernard-Uncasville.
“I was playing pretty well until about halfway thru the first set, then he got in my head. It went downhill from there,” said Zuczek, who lost in the S semifinals last season.
The two players, who split four matches in off-season USTA tournaments, broke each other’s serves in the second set, but Miller was able to break serve again to prevail.
“He is a frustrating player to play,” Miller said about Zuczek. “He’ll hit a winner, than make two errors, so it is almost out of your hands at certain times. I was able to get enough balls back and play smart tennis. It’s almost impossible to attack his ball. It’s jumping, it’s spinning and it’s with a lot of pace. It’s tough to be aggressive so I had to use my defensive game.”