When the Staples and Ridgefield boys tennis teams first met this season on April 23, Wreckers coach Kris Hrisovulos tinkered with his lineup to match his opponent's strengths.
The two contenders met for a second time Tuesday with a trip to the FCIAC championship on the line and again the Wreckers utilized their depth to get the best of the Tigers.
Shifting from his usual doubles spot to No. 5 singles, Staples' Jack Reardon helped continue his team's postseason run. Reardon's 7-6, 7-5 win over Tal Nizan clinched the second-seeded Wreckers' 4-1 win over third-seeded Ridgefield in Tuesday's FCIAC semifinal at home.
"I was a little nervous in the beginning. He played really well," Reardon said. "I just made a lot of balls to his weaker side and came in on a lot. I was aggressive in the second set."
The win sets up Staples' third straight FCIAC finals appearance against rival Greenwich, Thursday at 4 p.m. at Wilton High School. The top-seeded Cardinals, who defeated the Wreckers in the final the previous two years, advanced Tuesday with a 4-0 win over No. 5 Fairfield Ludlowe.
Staples displayed its superior depth against Ridgefield, winning all four singles matches that were completed. Reardon, who won at No. 1 doubles against Ridgefield in the first meeting, recorded the last of those victories to make it 4-1.
Ridgefield altered its usual lineup on Tuesday, including moving its No. 1 singles player, Arnaud Valentin, down to top doubles after he injured his ankle recently. Doug Butturini was elevated to No. 2 singles after playing mainly at top doubles.
"I knew they were going to change some things up, as they did," Hrisovulous said. "I countered with a different lineup than the first time we played, with what I thought was our best scenario no matter what they threw at us. It actually paid some dividends."
"It just shows the depth of our team," Hrisovulos said, referring to the Wreckers' success at singles. "I have so much variety and so many options. It's what you need in the FCIAC, especially."
"We had great matches in all of them," Ridgefield coach Brad Harrington said. "Some turned our way and some didn't. That's the way tennis goes. You can't discredit Staples -- a great team."
"We had great energy, great spirit in the match," Harrington said. "I can't ask for anything more than that. The credit I always give the kids is they always fight."
Having clinched another trip to the conference final, Staples is eager to avenge its only loss this season. The Wreckers (18-1) lost to Greenwich 5-2 on May 6.
"It's what I wanted," Hrisovulos said of a rematch with the Cardinals. "Obviously you want to play the best."
Hirschberg, a senior, has seen Staples lose the FCIAC final each of the previous three years. Sandwiched in those defeats is a 2011 LL state title. The Wreckers are hoping to change their fortunes in the conference final this time around.
"They're a nice group of kids. We definitely have mutual respect for each other," Hirschberg said of Greenwich. "But we want this really bad."
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Staples 4, Ridgefield 1 (at Staples) Singles -- Jake Hirschberg (S) v. Bryson Mosley (R) match called in third set; Josh Moskovitz (S) def. Doug Butturini 6-1, 7-6 (7-2); Zack Levin (S) def. Patrick Sheehan-Delany 6-4, 6-3; Luke Foreman (S) def. Hans Reuter 6-2, 6-0; Jack Reardon (S) def. Tal Nizan 7-6, 7-5. Doubles -- Arnaud Valentin/Matt DePrima (R) def. Connor Mitnick/Baxter Stein 6-2, 6-3; Jason Chaskin/Jared Eisenberg (S) v. Tommy Knortz/Keillor Mose match called in second set.