Undefeated Staples tennis teams out for postseason hardware
WESTPORT — At some point the Staples boys tennis team will lose a match, it just might not happen anytime soon.
The Wreckers are in the midst of yet another long win streak that could once again culminate with a place they’re familiar with: Hoisting the FCIAC and Class LL championships.
Staples has claimed the last four FCIAC and last two state championships, a streak that ninth-year head coach Kris Hrisovulos and his squad are more interested in continuing. A now 41-match win streak — on the heels after a 46-match streak was snapped recently — after a 5-2 win over Norwalk is icing on the cake.
“They definitely are motivated; the ultimate goal is to defend both titles,” Hrisovulos said. “But we tried to basically talk how champions don’t really exhale, they find ways get better and every year is a new year to create their own chapter in the storybook. They are motivated and (the streak) is part of their legacy.”
Monday’s win pushed the record to 7-0 this spring as the weather has predictably wreaked havoc with the schedule. Staples plays five matches in five days this week, including Friday’s showdown at rival Greenwich.
Hrisovulos has another arsenal of high-level players, so many that the squad of 15 is the most he’s had on varsity during his tenure. One of the stronger aces in program history and defending State Open champion returns in senior Evan Felcher, who missed part of the early season with the flu.
The Oregon-bound Felcher transferred to the school last year and seamlessly fit into the team.
“Last year was his first time on a team and he’s gotten more comfortable with the team aspect,” Hrisovulos said. “He’s one of the top players in the state; were definitely excited to get him back on the court.”
Senior Kion Bruno, a four-year starter for the Wreckers, will take No. 2 singles duties while Ben Stein, Eric Stein and Jack Tooker will also see singles action. Staples is loaded with doubles talent, including Sam Lampert, Eric Greenberg, and Bradley Shepard. Standout junior Jake Greenwald tore his ACL during a match earlier this season.
“What’s challenging this year is bigger roster coming together, it will take some time,” Hrisovulos said. “Eleven of our 15 players are upperclassmen and that will ultimately help down the road come playoff time. Once we sort out our doubles we will have a strong lineup.”
THE CROWN JEWEL
The Wreckers girls tennis team has claimed more runner-up medals than coach Paco Fabian would like to remember. Building one of the top programs in the state has lifted Staples into annual title contention, but one state title and a combined five runner-up finishes the last three seasons has kept the motivation high to claim an elusive title.
“Our goal is to win the FCIACs this year, that’s one thing this group has never done,” Fabian said. “We’ve looked the (championship) board we have of years that has one. Only thing this I’m sure NC and Darien want the same thing.”
Staples is in position to earn its first FCIAC title since 2002, and is off to a 5-0 start during a weather-afflicted April. The Wreckers are a blend of youth and experience, but their ace at the top of the lineup provides the most hope.
Alyssa DiMaio was immediately thrust into the No. 1 singles spot as a freshman, and more than held her own. The top-level recruit reached the State Open quarterfinals and helped the team to an undefeated regular season in 2017.
“She’s turned into one of our best team players overall, too,” Fabian said. “Even if she’s not playing she shows up and cheers on her teammates; that shows leadership and it’s so nice for the girls when your best player is there every day and cares it trickles down.”
Senior Olivia Foster is the No. 2 singles player for the Wreckers, while sophomore Alisyn Kercher and freshman Carine Geijerstam — a transfer from Norway — will also see singles time. Kristin Butler reached the State Open final as a doubles player with now graduated Megan Brown, and she will play with fellow senior Hannah Bjorkman.
Olivia Gordy, Gabriela Vega, Luiza Cocito, Natalie Carozza and Lily Smith are in the mix for doubles time, Fabian said.
Though both seniors, Fabian added Bjorkman and Butler are motivated to finish off their high school careers with a State Open title.
“They’re motivated because (Butler) lost in the finals,” Fabian said. “Because they lost and they saw how close they were, and we did lose finals of everything it’s brought extra motivation.”