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We're Back!!!

Posted Tuesday, March 29, 2011 by Coach Cavanagh


 It is true that Connetquot Tennis graduated 13 out of 17 players from its “Cinderella Season” from a year ago. It is also true that Connetquot Tennis graduated all three captains from that historic team. However, it is also true that those 13 seniors left their mark on all the players that remained. We remember vividly traveling to Islip a year ago and coming back on the bus with a 4-3 defeat, we also remember the second half surge that ended with a thrilling 5-2 victory over that same Islip team clinching that elusive playoff berth that has avoided the team for so many years. Well, it is a new year and clearly the T-Birds are a completely different team, they are in the early stages of a rebuilding process that again earned them a last place preseason seed. 

 

Well after their first win of the season on Monday afternoon the team looked to not only build a winning streak, but also continue the roll that was started by last year's "13". Riding a hot match from the previous day, Coach Cav decided to stick with Senior Captain Tom Perz and Junior rookie Brendan Sullivan at second doubles it was a decision that looked flawless as the two pulled a "Bjelke/Cannon" quickly trouncing their opponents 6-2, 6-0. With a few players suffering from injury, Islip had to forfeit their third doubles spot leaving the match 2-0 in favor of the young T-Birds.  A few moments after the Perz/Sullivan match ended Connetquot's first doubles team of Gates and Gillen gave Connetquot a 3-0 lead. It was going to be up to the singles matches, and all they needed was “one” of those four to clinch the match.

 

With the first sets winding down things looked a bit bleak for the T-Birds. First singles 0-5, second singles 2-5, third singles 5-6, and fourth singles 3-5. They were trailing in all four and the butterflies began to fly for Coach Cav. "No question about it, at that time in the match I felt that our guys were letting little things get to them. They were not playing relaxed tennis and we were most definitely on the ropes." Soon after that Connetquot dropped the first sets in both 1st and 2nd singles and 3rd and 4th were both in tiebreakers. Young Nick Troiano pulled out his first set 7-5 in the breaker and Senior Captain David Hahn fought back from being down 2-4 in the breaker to win 7-5.

 

Even though the singles were tied a two matches a piece after one set the anxious moments were far from over. Chris Kash ran into a very tough and game opponent dropping his second set 0-6. And while Andrew Realmuto battled his opponent he valiantly succumbed 5-7. So it was down to the third and fourth singles matches. The youngest player of this new squad, and the old vet who lived the miracle that was the '10 season.

 

In what seemed like a blink of an eye Nick dropped the second set and was going to have play a third set for the first time in his career. David looked to be heading for the same fate as he was down 2-3 and one could tell that the David that we all know and love was going through some tough moments out there. "I didn't recognize the confident young man that I have known since the eighth grader." stated Cav. “He needed to get back to what David does well, baseline drives and big overheads. Lucky for us he realized it before it was too late." Lucky indeed, David ran off four games in a row including a blistering overhead that blasted his opponent in the back. David, without his best play dug deep and won a match that was as a big as any that he has ever played in his career.

 

So Connetquot won the match as they were up 4-2. But don't tell Nick that his match didn't matter. He matched his court intensity with booming passing shots and timely serves up the tee to keep his opponent at bay in the third set. Nick emerged victorious for the second straight day winning 6-3 in the third set. A huge win for any player, but even more so for an eighth grader. The match left Connetquot 1-0 in league play with hopes of repeating on last year’s success.

 

So yes the "13" are gone and there are new faces on their courts, and in their lockers. There are new chants and laughs. However as the bus pulled away from the Islip courts today one could only think back on those young men that help build a program and smile. This win was for them today and for everything that they stood for. 

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