Playoff time is about showing character, showing smarts and showing growth.
The Greenwich High School boys tennis team scored a trifecta in all three categories Thursday as the No. 4 seeded Cardinals ousted No. 5 Fairfield Warde High School, 4-1 in the FCIAC playoff quarterfinals at Sound Shore Indoor Tennis in Port Chester, N.Y.
"We played Warde about three weeks ago in the regular season and we won 5-2. The lineups were about the same this time around," Greenwich coach Rich Lane said. "The plan was to be more efficient today. And I think we showed what we learned. Our pre-match talk was about `What do you remember about your opponent?' and `What worked last time?' We made the adjustments and we made it happen."
And so, Greenwich moves into Tuesday's FCIAC semifinals. No. 3 Westhill topped No. 6 Wilton, 4-1. But the No. 8 Fairfield Ludlowe at No. 1 Staples along with No. 7 New Canaan at No. 2 Ridgefield quarterfinal matches were postponed by rain to Friday.
Only one of Greenwich four points came easily as No. 4 singles and lefty Marcos Eslava downed Warde's Jack Johnson, 6-0, 6-0.
The other six matches -- including the No. 1 singles and No. 5 singles which did not finish their third sets -- were battles that could have gone either way.
At No. 1 doubles, Greenwich's duo of seniors Shaw Speer and Louis McKenzie defeated Warde's Jack Mappa and Kevin Mercado, 6-2, 6-4 to give GHS an early 2-0 edge.
At No. 2 singles, Eyad Nagori scored the lone point for Warde (12-5) with a 6-3, 7-6 triumph over Chris Salisbury.
At No. 2 doubles, the Greenwich pair of sophomore Tyler Dagnino and junior Max Minichetti rallied for a 3-6, 7-6, 6-0 victory over Warde seniors Daniel Pavoni and Eric Segerberg.
"We had the chance at victory on our racquets. It seems like we get closer and closer every time we meet Greenwich," Warde coach Ben Zuckerberg said. "All my kids fought hard, but it wasn't enough. Our group has gotten progressively better all season. So we're looking forward to states."
The match was decided at No. 3 singles. Up a set, Greenwich lefty Dickerman Hollister led 5-4 in the second set and was serving. But Warde's Kanav Kumar broke for 5-5, held serve for 6-5.
But Hollister won a marathon game for 6-6 and a tiebreaker. Hollister rolled in the tiebreaker to win 6-4, 7-6 (7-1) and lift GHS (15-4) to the semifinals.
"The difference playing indoors is it's too quiet. We could only bring both kids down on the empty court to cheer at the very end. Support is key in high school tennis," GHS' Lane said. "It took a while this season to figure out our lineup and decide what our expectations were. We lost 4-3 at Westhill on April 28, but we figured things out after that."
FCIAC Playoff Quarterfinals Read Full Article
Greenwich 4, Warde 1
At Sound Shore Indoor Tennis
Singles: No. 2 Eyad Nagori (W) def. Chris Salisbury, 6-3, 7-6; No. 3 Dickerman Hollister (G) def. Kanav Kumar, 6-4, 7-6 (7-1); No. 4 Marcos Eslava (G) def. Jack Johnson, 6-0, 6-0. Doubles: No. 1 Shaw Speer/ Louis McKenzie (G) def. Jack Mappa/ Kevin Mercado, 6-2, 6-4; No. 2 Tyler Dagnino/ Max Minichetti (G) def. Daniel Pavoni/ Eric Segerberg, 3-6, 7-6, 6-0.
Highlights: No. 1 singles Ari Cepelewicz (G) had slight lead in 3rd set. No. 5 singles was in third set when match called.