MADISON — Josh Israel had already missed one tennis season from Hand. Then he started off this season on the sidelines.
Israel was contact traced three different times for COVID-19. He said he tested negative all three times, but he still had to be quarantined each time — and missed half of this season.
“I was more frustrated that I was away from the team for eight matches and all of the practices,” Israel said.
Israel returned to action at No. 1 singles for Hand earlier this month. His record, like his previous season, remained unblemished. But it wasn’t easy.
— Joe Morelli (@nhrJoeMorelli) May 26, 2021
Twice in as many weeks, Cheshire junior Utsav Subramani took Israel to a third set, including Wednesday’s Southern Connecticut Conference tournament final. Both times, Israel rallied from losing the first set.
On Wednesday, he clinched the deciding match in Hand’s successful quest for a three-peat in SCC Division I. Top seed Hand defeated No. 2 Cheshire 5-2.
“Now I have a team that is quite deep that worked extremely hard this year. This means more now to me, our boys and our seniors,” Hand coach Dawn Fagerquist said. “I kind of hate to see it end.”
Cheshire (16-3) had given Hand its toughest match of the season, only losing 4-3 on April 26.
Sebastian Lowy, co-captain along with Israel and Dave Levchenko, played at No. 1 singles in Israel’s absence. On Wednesday, he beat Cheshire’s Yasha Laskin in straight sets (6-4, 6-4).
Cheshire won the No. 3 and 4 singles, but Hand swept the doubles.
Subramani won the first set 6-4 — the identical score in the opening set on May 18. Israel won the next two 6-1 and 6-2.
“Once I was able to establish myself in the second set, I calmed down and rolled from there,” Israel said. “I have so much respect for him. He has maximized all of his assets to really play to his strengths and limit how much I am able to exploit his weaknesses. And he knows all of my weaknesses too. I know never to count him out.”
Said Subramani: “When you are playing a guy like Josh, he doesn’t take a point off. He has had great success in all of his seasons of high school, so having that experience when you are going through the sets, when everyone is tired and mentally getting tired, he has been through that.”
Hand has won 70 consecutive regular-season matches.
Hand 5, Cheshire 2
(at Madison). Singles: Josh Israel (H) def. Utsav Subramani 4-6, 6-2, 6-2; Sebastian Lowy (H) def. Yasha Laskin 6-4, 6-4; Andrew Gershfeld (C) def. David Levchenko 6-1, 6-4; Josh Goldstein (C) def. Max Gulla 6-2, 6-2; Doubles: Reilly Vejar/Will DeCharbert (H) def. Nathan Houle /Jacob Niebling 6-1, 6-1; Will Fumex/Elliott Booth (H) def. Ryan Shan/Shrey Sheth 6-1, 6-1; John VanOstenbridge/ Patrick Hennessey (H) def. Shawn Lawless/Jon Chen 6-0, 6-0.
— Al Carbone (@SCCcommissioner) May 26, 2021
Amity girls sweep Hand
Amity and Hand met for the fifth straight time in the SCC Division I girls tennis finals. And for the first time during this stretch, the final produced a shutout.
Amity was on the winning end, taking the match (7-0) and snapping Hand’s quest for a four-peat in the process.
“All those years. I’d say, ‘If I had one or two more players.’ Now we have the one or two more players,” said Amity coach Harold Freedman, who began coaching the Spartans in 1975.
The Spartans have a pair of underclassmen at the No. 1 and 2 singles spots. Sophomore Kylie Pickens defeated Hand’s Lindsay Riordan 6-3, 6-2 and freshman Bell Sicignano shut out Claire Langille. Adithi Wijesekera and Annika Minnotti were the winners at No. 3 and 4 singles, respectively.
Sydney Pitter is a top-flight singles player, but she moved over to No. 1 doubles, teaming up with Eesha Acharya in a straight-set victory.
“Today was their closest match of the season,” Freedman said. “We are talented at every sport. I couldn’t have been more pleased.”
Amity 7 Hand 0
(at Woodbridge). Singles 1. Kylie Pickens (A) def Lindsay Riordan 6-3, 6-2 2. Bell Sicignano (A) def Claire Langille 6-0, 6-0 3. Adithi Wijesekera (A) def. Laila Haraj-Sai 6-1, 6-4 4. Annika Minnotti (A) def. Eileen Chen 6-0, 6-2. Doubles Eesha Acharya and Sydney Pitter (A) def. Breanna Colonese DiBello and Zhu Zhu Berger 6-4, 7-5 2, Nuka Acharya and Kyah Francis (A) def. Bella Vejar and Paige Van Ostenbridge 6-2, 7-6 (2) 3. Jen Xu and Aadya Wijesekera (A) def. Eliza Beccia and Libby Rogers 6-2, 6-0 Amity 18-0; Hand 15-3. Tournament MOPs: Eesha Acharya and Sydney Pitter (Amity).
— Jonathan Law Athletics (@JLHSAthletics) May 26, 2021
Law wins first title
It’s been a special season for Law. The day after the Law girls won its first league championship since 1980, the boys won its first ever.
Dan Folloni, the SCC Division II tournament’s most outstanding player, swept No. 1 singles to help top seed Law defeat Sheehan 5-2 at Milford.
This was Law’s closest match thus far during its 18-0 season.
“What an amazing year. My guys have an outstanding work ethic and strive to improve each day. To go undefeated and win SCCs is a true testament to the dedication of this group,” Law coach Glen Maxwell said.
Adarsh Senthilnathan won at No. 2 singles. Sheehan claimed the other two singles matches.
Law swept all three doubles watches, led by Julien Roy and Brian Zirkel in the No. 1 position.
Law 5 Sheehan 2
(At Milford). Singles: Dan Folloni (JL) def. Avery Solan (S) 6-1, 6-1; Adarsh Senthilnathan (JL) def. Kalen Boman (S) 6-0, 6-0; John Womelsdorf (S) def. Anish Sikhinam (JL) 4-6 6-2 6-2 Satvik Agnihotram (S) def. Marcelo Silva (JL) 6-4 6-3Doubles: Julien Roy/Brian Zirkel (JL) def. Jadin Kapor/Matt Carboni (S) 6-2, 6-3; Angel Santiago/Pardhip Nair (JL) def. Vraj Patel/Connor Duffey (S) 6-3, 7-6(7-3), Lucas Greifzu/Zachary Moller (JL) def. Ryan Lagasse/Brennan Lagasse (S) 6-4 6-0 . Notes: Law wins it first postseason championship in school history.
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