Patel wins wild ECC boys' tennis singles final

Top-seeded Suryansh Patel of East Lyme, shown here making a return during Tuesday's quarterfinals, won his first ECC boys' tennis singles championship with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-5 victory over St. Bernard's Nicholas Zuczek on Wednesday.
Top-seeded Suryansh Patel of East Lyme, shown here making a return during Tuesday's quarterfinals, won his first ECC boys' tennis singles championship with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-5 victory over St. Bernard's Nicholas Zuczek on Wednesday. Dana Jensen/The Day Buy Photo

Waterford — Suryansh Patel, the one they call "Prince," played tennis for three hours, 25 minutes Wednesday afternoon, barely surrendering to a hint of emotion.

Even staring at match point in the third set.

"I was really nervous," he said. "My hands were shaking and I couldn't even hold the racket."

Fate, however, had something redemptive in mind for Patel, a calm-as-a-lagoon sophomore at East Lyme High School, who outlasted his friend Nicholas Zuczek of St. Bernard, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 to win the Eastern Connecticut Conference singles championship.

Teammates Nipun Hewage and Matt Chan took down defending champions Brett Pias and Tucker Murphy of Waterford, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 to win the doubles title, too.

Vikings, Vikings everywhere, right there on rival Waterford's home courts.

Patel defeated Zuczek in last season's ECC semifinals, but lost to teammate Andy King in the finals.

"It feels really, really good," Patel said. "To be able to come back and win it this year, I'm really honored. We're both equally matched players."

Patel and Zuczek played United States Tennis Association matches together and are doubles partners.

Zuczek was at match point in the third set but double faulted.

"Nerves. All nerves," Zuczek said. "Nerves got to me. That's my fault. But overall, I'm happy with the way I played today ... can't be mad. It was exactly what I expected.

"I have the utmost respect for (Patel). He's a great player."

Hewage and Chan, meanwhile, handed Pias and Murphy their first loss in two years.

"We had to avenge our teammates," Chan said, alluding to Unni Karambai and Matthew Lin, who lost to Murphy and Pias in the quarterfinals. "We couldn't lose."

Hewage and Chan, a sophomore and junior respectively, weren't merely less experienced, but less physically imposing.

"To be honest," Hewage said, "when I saw them hitting (before the match) I didn't think we were going to win. But after the first few games, I thought we had a chance."

Waterford coach Ralph DiSaia said, "Brett and Tucker didn't pay their best today and they needed to do so in order to win. They did mount a rally. But to East Lyme's credit, they took advantage of things."

m.dimauro@theday.com

St. Bernard's Nicholas Zuczek, shown here making a backhand return during Tuesday's quarterfinal win over Waterford's Matt Getty, lost a three-set thriller to No. 1 Suryansh Patel of East Lyme in the ECC singles title match Wednesday. Zuczek was the No. 2 seed.
St. Bernard's Nicholas Zuczek, shown here making a backhand return during Tuesday's quarterfinal win over Waterford's Matt Getty, lost a three-set thriller to No. 1 Suryansh Patel of East Lyme in the ECC singles title match Wednesday. Zuczek was the No. 2 seed. Dana Jensen/ The Day Buy Photo
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