We welcomed Suffield to town for a Monday matchup, mobilizing as fast as possible to start just before 5:00. Coming off an unpleasant loss to Exeter, we were looking to sink our teeth into something, and the boys came out firing in doubles, going up 5-0, 6-1, and 7-0 respectively. However, this was a highly motivated and well-coached Suffield squad, and although Alfi and Gideon sealed the deal at #3, things got a little dicey at #2 and #1 – Suffield’s much-improved play (as well as the 20 mph winds) threw us off our game. Fortunately, Darren and Scott were able to serve things out, and we abbreviated what had become a tight matchup on the first court.
From the first game, it was apparent that singles would be a dogfight. Every match was competitive, and we only found strong success at #6, where Gideon shook off the afflictions of his previous few singles matches, and at #2, where Scott was dialed in against Kelley. Elsewhere, slow starts abounded: Alfi’s errors piled up against Hoermann, Matthew couldn’t quite put Derby away, and Darren was knocked off his game by Boonsoong’s mix-em-up tactics. The momentum thus hung with Carl, perspiring profusely against the wizard Bicknell. Suffield’s #1 employed a solid strategy – repeatedly hacking low slices to the service line to neutralize Carl’s groundstrokes, throwing in enough drop shots to keep Carl guessing, ripping groundstrokes of his own whenever Carl got too comfortable fielding the slices, and retrieving more balls than I’ve seen all year. It was an incredible effort, and nearly got the job done – but Carl willed himself to victory, breaking back at 4-5 and eventually sneaking by Bicknell 8-6 in a tiebreaker.
Gideon was off by the start of Carl’s tiebreak, withstanding renewed effort from Bonavire to put our first singles point on the board – huge! Scott finished shortly afterward, refusing to let Kelley get too close in a truly captain-worthy performance, after which the score stood 3-0 to Deerfield. As Alfi roared back to take his second set 6-0, momentum lay squarely on our side – and even more so after Darren took his second set. Matthew, battling hard against the energetic Derby, was deep in a second set, trading holds to get to 4-5.
Carl finally got the break he needed at 3-3 in the second; he held at 4-3 and had the match on his racquet at 5-4. I’d never bet against Carl in a situation like this, and sure enough, he brought it home, clinching the match with our fourth point of the day.
Seconds later, Alfi came off the court, having won a decisive third set. More good news then came from court 4, where Matthew, after getting broken at 6-5, took the second set tiebreaker. The superbreaker was never in doubt, and his victory put us only one point from the sweep.
Darren refused to abbreviate his match against Boonsoong, and channeled his anger and frustration into some seriously good tennis. When Save’s final shot landed long just shy of 8 PM, we could put a very satisfying 7-0 win in the books.
I’ve never been prouder of the boys than I was today. All six of them faced adversity, and all six of them rose to the occasion. They kept their heads up, showed good sportsmanship, and supported each other, joining together and playing like a team. It was the finest performance I’ve seen in two years here, and gave us a final win to put on our tournament resume. Now, we wait, as the bracket comes out later this week.
Thanks to David Michaud ’16 and Wondo for sticking around and cheering through the end of the match, and my apologies to Carey Danforth for keeping her from seeing her brother. The fellas are back in action on Wednesday at Cheshire.
Deerfield 7, Suffield 0
Carl Grant/Matthew Wuyan (D) vs. Andrew Bicknell/Sasha Derby (S) 6-5, unfinished
Scott Danforth/Darren Ho (D) d. Peter Kelley/Save Boonsoong (S) 8-5
Alfi Auersperg/Gideon Yektai (D) d. Baek Kang/Leonard Hoermann (S) 8-1
Grant (D) d. Bicknell (S) 7-6, 6-4
Danforth (D) d. Kelley (S) 6-3, 6-3
Ho (D) d. Boonsoong (S) 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
Wuyan (D) d. Derby (S) 4-6, 7-6, 10-2
Auersperg (D) d. Hoermann (S) 4-6, 6-0, 6-3
Yektai (D) d. Ben Bonavire (S) 6-3, 6-2