PORTLAND — Tuesday marked a new, unprecedented high for Bob Malafronte and Highlander boys tennis.
And boy, do things look good on those tennis courts just off High Street.
Portland earned its first Shoreline Conference tennis title Tuesday at home, avenging its only regular-season loss in a 5-2 victory against perennial champion Old Lyme.
“What an incredible accomplishment by a group of dedicated and committed student-athletes,” Malafronte remarked. “These guys never stopped trying to improve. They worked so hard all year long and really believed we could win.”
The winning combination Tuesday came from stellar singles play and a three-set win by Richard Le and Steven Churchill at No. 1 doubles.
Adam Harris rallied for a key point at No. 5 singles, earning a 6-7, 7-6, 6-2 thriller against Old Lyme’s Ethan Fenton.
“Watching Adam, Richard and Steven redeem themselves from the last time we played is really what the sport is about,” Malafronte said. “Never hanging your head, finding the right strategy during the match and having the heart to hit your best shot.”
Portland’s Alex Riccio bowed to Morgan White at the top singles spot, but the Highlanders picked up singles wins from Justin Danielewicz, TJ Salvatore, Andrew Geres and Harris.
Malafronte had high praise for Danielewicz.
“I have never coached a kid who works as hard day in and day out as Justin, and his attitude is contagious,” Malafronte said. “He was able to convince some seniors to try tennis for the first time (Geres, Harris and Beau Sienkewicz), and we found out they were natural competitors and tough tennis players.”