New Canaan’s Luke Crowley reacts after he and teammate Jack Moore win a point at No. 1 doubles during the Rams’ boys tennis match against Darien at New Canaan High School on Monday, April 29, 2019. — Dave Stewart/Hearst Connecticut Media
NEW CANAAN — It doesn’t get much better than two 11-0 boys tennis teams going head-to-head late in the season. When those two teams are part of the heated New Canaan-Darien rivalry, the intensity is kicked up even higher.
New Canaan scored a victory in the rivalry’s latest chapter as the Rams won a tight 4-3 match over the Blue Wave on Monday on its home courts. New Canaan won the first two completed matches and Darien stormed back with three straight before the Rams put the win in the books by taking the final two contests.
The result leaves the Rams (12-0) as the FCIAC’s last undefeated team, and also avenges last season’s 6-1 loss to Darien. Prior to that, New Canaan hadn’t lost to its rival since 2007.
“This was huge because last year, we had a really good start to the season and then Darien beat us,” New Canaan senior co-captain Luke Crowley said. “This is validation that all the hard work we’ve been putting in has paid off. Now we have a big time win on top of beating Greenwich (4-3 on April 2), so this is a really great feeling.”
The Blue Wave (11-1) suffered its first blemish this spring, but with many of the sets being hotly-contested, head coach Hugh Underhill was upbeat.
“It was all tight matches and the boys competed well for both teams,” Underhill said. “It could’ve gone either way. We always love playing New Canaan. They’re a great bunch of guys, they’re well-coached “and it’s a great competition. We’d love to play them every week. We’re looking forward to playing them again in the FCIACs and maybe changing this around.”
Sai Akavaramu at match point in New Canaan’s 4-3 win over Darien in boys tennis. #ctten pic.twitter.com/DR7WUFl9gb
— NewCanaan Advertiser (@NCAdvertiser) April 30, 2019
New Canaan was trailing 3-2 with the No. 1 doubles and No. 3 singles matches on the courts.
The doubles match was particularly close with New Canaan’s Crowley and junior Jack Moore winning a battle with Darien junior Romano DeCaprio and sophomore Chris Calderwood 7-6 (7-4), 7-5.
The points in that match were long and emotions rode a roller coaster of ups and downs.
“Doubles in high school gets overlooked a little bit but there’s a huge emotional component to it,” Crowley said. “My partner Jack is a fireball and he pumps me up, I pump him up, and that keeps it really lively out there. It’s a lot of fun.”
With the match now “tied at 3-3, the spotlight shifted to No. 3 singles, where New Canaan sophomore Sai Akavaramu had a one-set advantage on Darien junior Nick Derby. In the second set, Derby rallied from a 3-1 deficit to gain a 4-3 lead, but Akavaramu bounced back to take the next three games for the set, winning the match 7-6 (7-6), 6-4.
“Last year when we beat Ridgefield 4-3, I was on the same court and it was the same situation, so it was like deja vu again,” Akavaramu said. “I was really tired after the first set, but I was just kept trying to fight and keep it going.
“I never stopped and never gave up. It was one point at a time, keep driving, and stay focused.”
Darien had the edge in the top singles matches, as senior Michael Karr was a 6-2, 6-2 winner over New Canaan senior JJ Lee at No. 1, and sophomore Ryan Patrick was a 6-4, 6-3 winner over the Rams’ senior co-captain Matt Brand at No. 2.
The Rams took the No. 4 singles match, where sophomore Ben Graham defeated Darien junior Derek Chiapetta 6-0, 6-1.
New Canaan’s Jack McCarthy and Alessandro Sulpizi, both seniors, won at No. 2 doubles, defeating Darien senior co-captain Tyler Cramer and junior Ian Wise 6-3, 6-2.
At No. 3 doubles, Wave senior Sergei Doroshin and freshman Andrew Kelley defeated Ram junior Aryan Pal and sophomore Andrew Zuo 6-4, 6-3.
Monday’s result will loom large in the FCIAC tournament picture. Both teams have beaten Greenwich (8-3) and still have defending league champion Staples (10-1) on the schedule.Darien will get the Wreckers at 4 p.m., Tuesday, at home as it finishes off a tough two-day stretch.“This is a huge week and this is what we’ve been playing for all year round,” Underhill said. “We’ve been talking about this from when the schedule came out and we were ready for this. This is why you play. We’d love to have weeks like this every week.””
For the Rams, who now sit alone atop the conference standings, beating rival Darien is a huge boost.
“We have a lot of confidence,” Akavaramu said. “We just want to keep our streak going and hopefully win FCIACs and states.”
“Staples and Greenwich have been pretty dominant for a long time, so to have Darien and New Canaan undefeated is great. It’s big time tennis for high school and to be the only undefeated team left is a great feeling.” — New Canaan senior co-captain Luke Crowley
NEW CANAAN 4, DARIEN 3
(at New Canaan): Singles: Michael Karr (D) def. vs. JJ Lee 6-2, 6-2; Ryan Patrick (D) def. Matt Brand 6-4, 6-3; Sai Akavaramu (NC) def. Nick Derby 7-6 (7-4), 6-4; Ben Graham (NC) def. Derek Chiapetta 6-0, 6-1; Doubles: Luke Crowley/Jack Moore (NC) def. Chris Calderwood/Romano DeCaprio 7-6 (7-4), 7-5; Jack McCarthy/Alessandro Sulpizi (NC) def. /Ian Wise/Tyler Cramer 6-3, 6-2; Sergei Doroshin/Andrew Kelley (D) def. Aryan Pal/Andrew Zuo 6-4, 6-3; Records: Darien 11-1; New Canaan 12-0
The post New Canaan boys tennis edges Darien in battle of unbeatens appeared first on New Canaan Advertiser.