NEW HAVEN >> Xavier’s Richard Ciamarra didn’t realize there were so many postseason tennis tournaments in high school. But that’s how most freshman are: naïve and full of youthful exuberance.
Ciamarra, however, proved in the Southern Connecticut Conference, Class LL and State Open tourneys that he’s not just any freshman.
Ciamarra capped a remarkable first season on the hard courts by winning the CIAC Boys State Open championship with a straight set 6-2, 6-2 victory over Staples senior Luke Foreman Wednesday at Yale.
Ciamarra, a Southington native who helped Xavier capture the SCC Division II title this season, completed a unique triple crown with the Open title. He also won the Class LL championship a week ago.
“It’s awesome,” said Ciamarra. “It’s a good season, best you can get. I had no idea that there was going to be so many tournaments like this going on and on. I just come out and play. I really don’t have a plan. I just come out and do what I do and that’s it.”
While Ciamarra was dispatching Berlin’s Dan Rombola 6-4, 6-2 in Tuesday’s semifinal, Foreman advanced with a grueling, three and a half hour win – the scores were 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (2) – against Ari Cepelewicz (Greenwich).
“I had very little left,” said Foreman. “It’s hard to recover so quickly, especially after such a battle. So I tried to kind of refuel and get my energy up but my legs were definitely a little tired.”
Ciamarra also defeated Foreman in a three-setter in the Class LL quarterfinals.
“He’s unbelievable,” added Foreman. “In the last three months alone he’s gotten so much better. It’s definitely disappointing but I’m so glad I made it this far. And to go out to such a great player and a great guy, it’s rewarding to make it to the final my senior year.”
After taking the first set 6-2, Ciamarra had a 3-2 lead in the second set. But Foreman was serving and trading some terrific shots with the Falcons sensation. The game went to deuce four times with Foreman even serving game point on two occasions. But Ciamarra got even with a great backhand shot, then grabbed a 4-2 lead with a blistering forehand.
“I felt like I played just overall well today,” said Ciamarra. “Things were going my way. I got some lucky shots and I just took the momentum and came out on top.”
Ciamarra’s Open victory was the perfect going away present for Xavier coach Matt Haywood, who is moving to Washington, D.C.
“It was really just amazing what he did,” said Haywood. “Not only because he’s a freshman, but because it was also our finals week at school and he was studying for two exams a day on top of preparing for his matches.”
Haywood, who guided the Falcons to consecutive SCC titles, spent six years at Xavier.
“Rich was extremely consistent this season,” explained Haywood. “His game is all around great. He doesn’t go too big on the serves but he knows how to put kids away and he can really adapt. He’s played many different types of players this year and he hasn’t always started off very strong. But as the match wore on, he kind of figured out how to beat them.”