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Friday, April 27 Sports

Warde sweeps after resumption for 5-2 boys tennis win over Ludlowe

It took four days, but the Fairfield Warde boys tennis team was able to pull out a 5-2 victory at home Friday.

The match between Warde and cross-town rival Fairfield Ludlowe was scheduled for Tuesday but rain forced the match to be suspended and continued -- not started all over again -- later in the week.

Warde (8-2) entered Friday trailing the Falcons 2-1, and had not beaten them for the past two seasons, but swept the four remaining matches on Day 2 to secure victory in the FCIAC match. Mustangs' coach Ben Zuckerberg spoke about the beneficial side of the three-day break in play.

"It was good because we came out a little cold and flat [Tuesday]," Zuckerberg said. "The break woke them up a little bit, and we had a couple days to talk about that and get them fired up for today."

On the other hand, the weather proved dissatisfying for Ludlowe (5-4) as it lost the spark that had put it up in the early going Tuesday.

"It's tough," said Ludlowe coach Andy Jorgensen of the spread-out match that spanned the change in months. "We lost the momentum we had Day 1; we had high energy the first day and today came out a little flat -- the kids had a couple days to think about the moment and probably started to overthink it a little bit."

During the recess, Warde had to face powerhouse Staples and lost 5-2. But despite the loss to the Wreckers, Zuckerberg said the contest helped his players realize their ability and enabled them to perform the way they did Friday.

"Staples, in my opinion, is the best team in the state," Zuckerberg said. "And we lost 5-2. We had two matches go to three sets, and it could have gone either way; we definitely could have won the match, and I think our kids got a lot of confidence from that match."

With the playoffs in sight, Zuckerberg said that he doesn't worry about a loss as much as how his team responds to losing, something they did superbly Friday.

"I like to give everybody a chance to play," Zuckerberg said of his coaching style.

"I put out my strongest lineup, but if we take a loss in the regular season, it's not the end of the world as long as we learn from it and use it to benefit us in the postseason."

Jorgensen hopes his Ludlowe team can experience similar confidence, experiencing gains from the high level of competition the Falcons face as they head towards the end of the season.

"The kids have gotten a little more experience playing some tougher teams now," Jorgensen said. "Hopefully they can learn from it so we can carry it over. It's been a slow climb; we started off pretty slow, but we're improving and getting kids where they need to be."

Sitting with one of the best records in the FCIAC, Zuckerberg knows his team has a chance to make noise in the conference and state playoffs, but he doesn't push his team harder, instead opting for optimism and praise.

"Energy -- that's the main thing I try to focus on, I don't yell at my kids; I don't chastise them; I try to keep it a family atmosphere and keep them comfortable and wanting to play for me," Zuckerberg said.

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"As long as our energy's up, that's the best chance were going to get. The team that's going to win is the team that's having the most fun, that's the bottom line.

Anthony Parelli is a freelance reporter

Fairfield Warde 5, Farfield Ludlowe 2

Singles: Ted Berkowitz (FW) def. Connor Doyle 6-1, 6-4; Eyad Nagori (FW) def. Mason Jennings 2-6, 6-2, 6-4; Parker Doyle (FL) def. Kunav Kumar 6-4, 6-1; Alex Slobin (FL) def. Jack Johnson 6-2, 6-2; Henry Johnson (FW) def. Alex Barker 6-4, 2-6, 10-8. Doubles: Jack Mappa/Kevin Mercado (FW) def. Ethan King/Sarthak Bothra 6-4, 6-3; Eric Segerberg/Daniel Pavoni (FW) def. Jeff Pearson/Brandon Chen 6-4, 6-4. Records: Fairfield Ludlowe 5-4; Fairfield Warde 8-2.