NEW HAVEN >> Scott Rubinstein and Alex Reiger have gotten the majority of the praise as Hand’s top two singles players over the past few years.
But on Friday, with a second straight Southern Connecticut Conference title hanging in the balance, the spotlight belonged to their senior teammate.
Dave Schulz had quietly built an undefeated season at No. 3 singles. For that to continue, he had to go through Amity’s Ethan Bernstein for a third straight time. All eyes were on the two players as the SCC title hung in the balance.
Schulz won in straight sets, 7-6 (10-8), 6-3, allowing Hand to earn the repeat with a 4-3 victory at Yale.
“I never actually asked. That’s generally a bad idea,” Schulz said when asked if he knew his match was the deciding one. “I wasn’t 100 percent sure, but I was starting to get pretty sure in the second set as the cheering picked up.”
Said Hand coach Dawn Fagerquist: “Dave has been my quiet kid for four years. He went undefeated his sophomore, junior and senior year. I could not have been any more proud than letting him take that most outstanding player award. He deserves it. He won this match for us.”
Schulz’s teammates came onto the court to mob the senior and celebrate the back-to-back titles.
“That was more relief than anything,” Schulz said.
Xavier also celebrated back-to-back titles on Friday, winning the SCC Division II title. The Falcons edged Notre Dame-West Haven 4-3.
Top-seeded Hand (17-2) and No. 2 Amity (16-2) split during the regular season, both matches taking place in the last 10 days. And after a 4-3 score in the final last year, there is obviously very little that separates the two teams.
But Fagerquist was bound and determined to see her Tigers holding up the trophy again.
“I told the kids the first day of practice on March 24, ‘The one thing I want is another SCC (championship),’” Fagerquist said. “They know me well enough to know I scream and yell in practice, I’m not very nice in practice. We get the work done, but when we go, we are one big, happy family. I’ll be damned if I wasn’t going home without another win this year.”
Amity’s Jason Seidman, the SCC Division I Player of the Year, won at No. 1 singles to remain undefeated. Reiger did the same at No. 2 for Hand. Amity’s Max Einbinder won in straight sets at No. 4 singles and Hand won two out of the three doubles matches.
That left it to the No. 3 singles match between Schulz and Bernstein.
“I’d put Bernstein down in that spot again,” Amity coach Chris Raffone said. “I wouldn’t want anyone else but him. He played with heart and he fought. Going into the state tournament, this was a great test.”
This was Amity’s seventh trip to the SCC tournament finals in Raffone’s eighth year as coach.
“Some years we played Cheshire (in the final), some years were against (Fairfield) Prep and some were against Hand,” said Raffone, voted the SCC Division I Coach of the Year. “But Amity will always be there. That’s what I pride myself on as coach and my program. To always be in the finals.”
Hand 4, Amity 3
(At New Haven)
Singles: Jason Seidman (A) def. Scott Rubinstein (DH) 6-0, 6-3; Alex Rieger (DH) def. Phil Hochman 6-3 6-0; David Shultz (DH) def. Ethan Bershtein 7-6 (10-8), 6-3 Max Einbinder (A) def. Austin Paresi 6-3, 6-1
Doubles: Nick Sabatelli/Gabe Betencur def. Andrew Goldfeder/Kyle Fay (DH) 6-4, 6-2; Danny Weinreb/Andrew Pace (DH) def. Jake Noyes/Noah Gallant 6-0, 6-2; Louie Rogers/Collen Nelson (DH) def. Marco Canepa/Jared Pepper 6-3, 1-6, 6-1
Xavier 4, Notre Dame-West Haven 3
(at New Haven)
Singles: Richard Ciamarra (X) def. Roy Smith (ND) 6-3, 3-6, 6-1; Rob Borea (X) def. Mike DeFelice (ND) 7-5, 7-5; Dylan Amble (X) def. Adrian Cruz (ND) 6-2, 5-7, 6-3; Pat Francis (ND) def. Michael Higgins (X) 4-6, 6-3, 4-6
Doubles: Gabe Sparks/Matt Plaziak (ND) def. John Borea/Jack Curran 6-3, 6-1; James Rosborough/Sam Sokolowski (X) def. Zack Hart/David Pisciotta (ND) 6-3, 6-3; Derek Longhini/Quinn Petroske (ND) def. Matt Ferris/Carter Neubieser (X) 6-1, 2-6, 6-4
Record: X 16-4.