NEW HAVEN — The Hand boys tennis team went undefeated during the 2017 season, then was upset in the SCC tournament final by Fairfield Prep.
The Tigers never forgot that day. It served as a painful reminder to complete the deal this time — and Hand did so in resounding fashion
Top seed Hand defeated No. 2 Amity 7-0 in the SCC tournament final at Yale University on Wednesday afternoon, one day after Hand avenged the loss to Prep by sweeping the Jesuits in the semifinals, also at Yale.
“There was completely unfinished business last year,” Hand coach Dawn Fagerquist said. “We stuck to our game plan and worked hard. Our captains (Justin Pace, Rob Israel and Alex Bueno) worked hard. We had to take care of business.”
So the Tigers move to 20-0 with the Class L state tournament on the horizon. The Hand girls stand at 20-0 too after beating Amity 5-2 in the SCC final. This is the second straight title for the Tigers and the second straight undefeated regular season.
“I’m very proud we haven’t lost in two years,” Hand coach Kitty Palmer said. “We didn’t have that close a match as far as score, but there were close (individual) matches.”
Palmer noted that No. 2 and 3 singles players Lindsay Riordan and Annie Barrett, along with the No. 1 doubles tandem of Anna Lang and Lee Jiaen, haven’t lost this season.
“Some of them have had a lot of experience with USTA nationals,” Palmer said. “That’s something they can call on. They have all been coming through but it’s very hard (to go undefeated).”
Amity girls coach Harold Freedman mixed up his lineup to try and pull off the upset. The Spartans (12-7) were able to take the No. 2 and 3 doubles matches — the only team this season to win two points off Hand.
“They are tough and have a lot of depth,” Freedman said. “We were in a real rebuilding year. We lost our first four matches, then came back really well. … All in all, it was a good season for us and we will be back next year.”
Hand finished 2017 by beating Guilford in the Class M state final. Now the Tigers will try to win Class L.
The Amity boys were swept by Hand in both regular-season matchups — its only two losses going into Wednesday. The Spartans were able to edge Guilford in Tuesday’s semifinals.
Amity coach Chris Raffone also mixed up his lineup looking to find some magic. Top singles player Marco Delsanto playing at No. 1 doubles was among the moves.
“We were more competitive in all three doubles matches as opposed to the regular season where I don’t think we took a set,” Raffone said. “It was a tough match. They are a state champion team in the L division and probably right up there against Staples and Greenwich. I’d like to see how they would do against them. I think they would do pretty well. They have strong players at the top and they are pretty deep.”
That move by Raffone pushed freshman Brett Gloria up to No. 1 singles, where he lost in straight sets to Pace. Another freshman, Hand’s Josh Israel, didn’t drop a single game against Zach Brocklehurst.
“Josh can do some damage if he stays with us,” Fagerquist said. “He wants to play Division I. Hopefully, he stay with us and gets something out of high school to bring into a college career.”
Hand’s No. 3 singles player, Noah Gulla, was the SCC’s Most Outstanding Performer in the boys tournament while Hand’s Sam Riordan took home the girls’ honors.
HAND 7, AMITY 0
(at New Haven)
Singles: Justin Pace (DH) Def. Brett Gloria 6-1, 6-2; Josh Israel (DH) Def. Zach Brocklehurst 6-0, 6-0; Noah Gulla (DH) Def. Ben Schiff 6-0, 6-1; Max Thompson (DH) Def. Arthur Lihar 6-2, 6-4; Doubles: Robbie Israel/Reilly Vejar (DH) def. Marco Delsanto-Henry Molot 5-7, 6-2, 1-0, retired; Alex Bueno/Darby Rogers (DH) Def. Chris Bullers-Andrew Johnson 7-5, 7-5; Nick Chieppo/Jamie Watkins (DH) Def. Ira Einbinder-Vince Li 6-1, 6-2. Records: H 20-0; A 17-3.
HAND 5, AMITY 2
(at New Haven)
Singles: #1 Sam Riordan (H) def. Sarah Bullers 6-3, 6-3; #2 Lindsay Riordan (H) def. Anisha Jain 6-0, 6-0; #3 Annie Barrett (H) def. Easha Acharya 6-1, 6-0; #4 Ellie Weinstein (H) def. Rhea Dey 6-1, 6-1; Doubles: #1 Anna Lang, Lee Jiaen (H) def. Sydney Pitter, Annika Minotti 6-1, 6-2; #2 Hannah Hipona, Catalina Betancur (A) def. Nicki Goldfeder, Nell Karas 6-2, 6-7 (4), 10-2; #3 Chloe Gherlone, Gabby McGovern (A) def. Jennie Burris, Clare Nelson 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. Records: H 20-0; A 12-7.