Hirschberg wins singles title, catapults Staples tennis to championship
Senior co-captain Danny Hirschberg won the Class LL title for the Staples boys tennis team.
Hirschberg won the Class LL singles title over Greenwich junior tri-captain Tyler Kratky yesterday at Yale University with a 6-3, 6-2 victory and by winning the individual title, he scored seven points and gave Staples 24 in the tournament that began June 2 at Hall High School in West Hartford. The singles title match decided the team title as Greenwich (23) finished second overall.
"It feels great," Hirschberg said. "It's our first LL title since 1988."
The Wreckers, who have moved between Class LL and L through time, last won a state title in 2008 when it won Class L for the eighth time in 10 years. This is the team's 15th state title overall.
What makes this big is the fact that the Cardinals defeated Staples for the FCIAC title, 4-0 May 26 (the other three matches were suspended once Greenwich clinched).
"I'm really proud of the guys," Wreckers Coach Kris Hrisovulos said. "It's well-deserved. We worked hard all year for this and I'm proud with how we came back after FCIACs and believed we could win it. I'm proud of the seniors. I'm happy for Danny and I couldn't be prouder of him."
Hirschberg won his second straight Class LL singles title.
"I've been doing a lot of off-court fitness work and it was a huge part of this match," Hirschberg said.
The match started with seven straight service breaks and Hirschberg took a 4-3 lead. Hirschberg ended this break streak to go up 5-3 and then had another service break to clinch the first set.
"I kind of slowed the pace of play a little bit and it caused me to relax," Hirschberg said.
In the second set, Hirschberg held serve to win the first game but Kratky came back with two wins to take a 2-1 lead. Hirschberg came back with a service break to tie it 2-2, which set up a decisive game that had six deuces. Both players had a chance to close out the game and were steady before Hirschberg closed it out with three straight points, forcing errors on two shots and on the clincher, hit a crosscourt passing shot to the far side.
"I won a very tough game when it was 2-2," Hirschberg said. "I hit a couple of good serves and I got lucky when he missed my returns. It definitely gave me momentum, which is why I won."
After Hirschberg won the game, Kratky couldn't muster any big shots and Hirschberg dominated the rest of the way. The Staples senior set up his game well and went to net and hit many winners from there to the gaps.
"My slicing [shots] were working well today," Hirschberg said. "I hit some good passing shots and my movement was great. I felt great on the court."
Hirschberg hit many of his winners off his backhand, including the last one that was out of Kratky's reach on match point.
"The backhand was a big part and hit them low down the line," Hirschberg said. "My backhand has been my best shot since I was little."
Hrisovulos said, "Tyler played great but Danny was more determined and patient and pulled through."
Before getting to the final, Hirschberg began his run by bageling his first four opponents with 6-0, 6-0 victories. He then defeated fourth-seeded Reid Risinger 6-2, 6-1 in the semifinals.
Coming up with six points for the Wreckers were junior lefty Graham Hyman and sophomore Jake Hirschberg (Danny's younger brother). Although they played at singles during the season, they were the second-seeded doubles team and after receiving a first-round bye, won four matches in straight sets to get to the doubles finals, where they faced the top-seed from Westhill, juniors John Petrini and Brandon Pomerance at Yale Wednesday on the court next to the older Hirschberg.
Similar to the singles match, the doubles match started with a long seven straight service breaks. Another similarity to the singles match was the fact Staples was the first one to hold serve with the southpaw Hyman doing so. Jake Hirschberg helped with an overhead forehand slam for a winner and Hyman forced a few errors.
Westhill then held serve to make it 5-4 and Jake Hirschberg served two straight set-points.
However, the Viking duo had a few nice gets to prevent the point from happening and scored four straight points to knot things at 5-5. Although Hyman and the younger Hirschberg played well all match and hit some big shots, the match started to turn at that point as Petrini and Pomerance could do no wrong and won, 7-5, 6-0.
"We got unlucky in one set point," Jake Hirschberg said. "I hit a good shot and John made a nice get on it. After that, we fell apart."
Hyman said, "They came up with big shots. We were in the points but they had too much for us. It [Westhill surviving two set-points] gave them momentum. If we won the first set, we would have had a chance to close them out in the second set."
Overall, Hyman and Jake Hirschberg were pleased with the overall tournament performance and by reaching the finals, they earned All-State honors along with Danny Hirschberg.
"It was awesome and I'm so happy to play with Jake," Hyman said.
Jake Hirschberg said, "It's really exciting because I didn't get this far last year and it was fun being in this position."
Hrisovulos was proud of his tandem. He said, "My guys played well but you have to credit the other team for making shots. They played well and got better in each round. I felt confident that putting them together would be our best chance of winning the state title. They got us to where they were supposed to."
Freshman Luke Foreman delivered three wins in straight sets at singles before losing to Kratky in the quarterfinals and senior co-captain Jesse Heusner was the 18th-seed and won his first set, 6-1, 6-0 before losing a close match in the second round to 13th-seeded Josh Rubenstein of Trumbull, 6-4, 6-3.
Junior Evan Davis and freshman Baxter Stein were the seventh-seeded doubles team and had a first round bye. Davis and Stein won 6-1, 6-0 over a Newtown duo and 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 over Greenwich's Phillip Goransson and Lucas Siegmund, which was a two-point swing in the overall match with the Cardinals, before losing 6-1, 6-1 to Petrini and Pomerance in the quarterfinals.
Senior Josh Kassef and junior lefty Stephen Thompson opened with a 6-1, 6-2 victory a Hall duo before upsetting 10th-seeded Nathaniel Gallant and Jonah Schwartz of Amity, 6-3, 6-2. Kassef and Thomson then pushed fifth-seeded Vinny Laudonne and Garrett Lynn of Glastonbury to a third set but lost, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4. Nevertheless, they gained one key unexpected point, which also made a difference.
"I truly believe in the team thing and everyone came up with big wins," Hrisovulos said.