After not being rigorously challenged through its first 11 games, the Greenwich boys tennis team knew this week would be the stretch where its undefeated streak would be seriously tested.
Consider that test passed with flying colors.
The Cardinals swept all five singles matches without dropping a set en route to a 5-2 win over visiting Ridgefield on Tuesday afternoon to improve to 13-0 on the season. Greenwich also extended its regular season FCIAC winning streak to 36 matches dating back to April 2011.
"Singles carried the day," Greenwich coach EJ Haskell said. "Our singles played with a lot of confidence and composure. They were steady; they didn't make mental mistakes today."
One particular singles performer that stood out was senior Tatsuya Tasaki, who defeated Ridgefield's Tommy Knortz 6-0, 6-0. The No. 3 is one of the best at his spot in the state and demonstrated that with another whitewash.
"(Tasaki) been playing so well this year," Haskell said. "He is a very strong hitter; he hits the ball with a lot of pace and he keeps it on the court. He has both patience and pace; that's a great combination. He hits the ball and steamrolls players."
A bright spot for the Tigers (11-2) was the performance of their doubles. Ridgefield won both contests, with the Tigers' Keillor Mose and Pat Sheehan-Delany defeating Mark Chien and Axel Hebrand 6-2, 6-4, while Doug Butturini and Bryson Mosley defeated Greenwich's Louis McKenzie and Shaw Speer 7-5, 5-7, 10-4. The latter four put on a show long after all of the matches were completed, fending off countless game and set points before the Tigers pulled away in the tiebreaker.
"Obviously Greenwich is a great and tough team," Ridgefield coach Brad Harrington said. "On a day of small victories, we'll take that win there. We have a great team and doubles. We mixed it up a little bit today; we had different doubles teams than we typically have. We wanted to mix it up and give Greenwich something different to look at. It worked out good in some spots and it was a good experiment for us; the kids played great."
The win for Greenwich came a day after defeating rival Staples by the same 5-2 score. With wins in consecutive days against their two main challengers, the Cardinals appear to be coasting to their 11th conference title in 12 seasons.
"It's perfect because we're confident because we defeated our two toughest opponents but we also had good matches," Haskell said. "We're not overconfident; right now we are in the right place mentally. We're really looking to spend a little time shoring up for the playoffs. We need to work on shoring up our doubles. Our doubles are strong but they don't get the competition our singles players do."
Greenwich 5, Ridgefield 2
Singles: Blake Niehaus (G) def. Matt DePrima 6-0, 6-1; Zach Niklaus (G) def. Arnaud Valentin 6-3, 6-3; Tatsuya Tasaki (G) def. Tommy Knortz 6-0, 6-0; Ari Cepelewicz (G) def. Hans Reuter 6-2, 6-0; Chris Salisbury (G) def. Tal Nizan 6-3, 6-4. Doubles: Doug Butturini/Bryson Mosley (R) def. Louis McKenzie/Shaw Speer 7-5, 5-7, 10-4; Keillor Mose/Pat Sheehan-Delany (R) def. Mark Chien/Axel Hebrand 6-2, 6-4 Records: Ridgefield 11-2; Greenwich 13-0.