The regular season is, as Greenwich High School boys tennis coach Richard Lane said, “a warm-up” for the postseason for the Cardinals.
“Our goal is to play our best in the postseason, it’s all about the postseason for us,” Lane said. “Our goals are pretty simple — to win the FCIAC and state titles.”
Greenwich, which has a long history of tennis success in both the FCIAC and CIAC Class LL tournaments, came close to winning both titles last spring. After a sterling 16-2 regular season, the Cardinals advanced to the semifinal-round of the FCIAC tournament, where they were edged by rival New Canaan, 4-2. Behind a number of strong performances in both singles play and doubles competition, Greenwich placed second behind Staples for the team title at the Class LL Tournament.
The Cardinals shared the Class LL championship with Staples in 2016 and last won the title outright in 2013. Greenwich’s last FCIAC championship came in 2013.
“We had a tough loss in the FCIAC semifinals, also states was tough, so, hopefully, we’ll redeem ourselves this year,” GHS senior co-captain Nick Dagnino said. “Our team kind of solidified our chemistry during the season last year and into the offseason. Hopefully, we’ll keep our momentum going from last year.”
Dagnino and senior co-captain Alex Litt will be relied upon for leadership and effectiveness at the No. 1 doubles spot — a position they excelled at in 2017.
“Last year we had some flashes and we had some good matches,” Litt said. “We hit our groove at the end of states and this past offseason we practiced doubles drills and we’re going to do some things differently from last year.”
Litt and Dagnino are the only two seniors on this sophomore- and junior-laden squad.
“Last year we sort of started a mini youth movement,” Lane said. “We brought in some talented young players and it has continued this year, as we have a young team. We are so dependent on our No. 1 doubles captains for leadership.”
Said Dagnino: “We want to teach everyone that tennis is more of a team sport in high school than an individual sport. Our goal is to win as a team and if we can teach everyone the importance of that, it would be great.”
WHO’S GONE?: Eric Toub and Henry DeCoster, who played at first and singles, respectively, each graduated. Toub, who produced an outstanding 2017 season at the No. 1 spot, advanced all the way to the finals of the singles bracket at the Class LL Tournament. He lost to Evan Felcher of Staples, 6-3, 6-4.
DeCoster, a consistent player second singles during the regular season, made it to the Round of 16 at last season’s Class LL Tournament, where he lost to Ben Stein of Staples, 6-4, 6-1.
Doubles team Alessio Fikre and Zach Gould, who advanced to the third round of the state tournament, also graduated, along with Colten D’Agostino.
SINGLES PLAYERS: Sophomore Justin Speaker is coming off a standout freshman campaign for the Cardinals. He made an impressive run at the 2017 state tourney, advancing to the quarterfinals of the singles bracket. Speaker is slated to play at first singles for the Cards.
“We have a really talented No. 1 player for the third year in a row,” Lane said of Speaker, who follows Toub and Will Blumberg at the top singles spot. Freshman Matt Luzzi an Caleb Fockens are vying for one of the top singles positions, while sophomore Matt Tamis seems primed to gain one of the singles spots.
DOUBLES TEAMS: Dagnino and Litt bring experience at No. 1 doubles and sophomores Stephan Brovig and James Cosby could be a doubles team to watch out for at No. 2
“We have an incredibly young team, if we can keep this nucleus together the next few years we are going to be very successful,” Lane said.
STRENGTHS: Speaker should be tough to top at No. 1 singles. Depth is also a plus.
“I think the strongest part of our team is depth,” Litt said. “We have a lot of players who can play both singles and doubles, which makes us hard to plan for and less succeptible to injuries.”
SHOWDOWNS: Darien (home) April 2, New Canaan (home) April 3, Ridgefield (home) April 7, Staples (away) April 19, Wilton (home) May 3.