The Day's All-Area Boys' Tennis Player of the Year: East Lyme's Finn Power
There isn't any quit in East Lyme High School's Finn Power.
Take, for example, on the tennis court, where Power overcame a loss in the first set of the Eastern Connecticut Conference tournament singles final and grinded out a victory over the course of two-and-a-half hours to emerge victorious. Or on the soccer field, where Power is a midfielder for the Vikings. Whatever Power puts his mind to, he keeps on ticking and striving to get better.
"He can be up five games and he plays each point like it's a tiebreaker," East Lyme tennis coach Susan Welshock said. "He just has great work ethic."
Power, a sophomore, was selected The Day's 2018 All-Area Boys' Tennis Player of the Year.
Power made his presence known early on at East Lyme. In his freshman year, he played in practice against program alum and former ECC singles champion Suryansh "Prince" Patel, whom he did not know.
"He was sure he could beat the guy. ... No one had beaten (Patel)," Welshock said.
"I got destroyed," Power said. "It put a lot of pressure on me because I felt like I had to win. ... I was laughing when I found out who I'd challenged. It was a release."
Situations like this have been influential on Power. "The coaches have kept me humble and mentally prepared," he said.
They've also motivated him to improve.
"He's going to put his sights on a target and he's going to achieve it," Welshock said. "If Suryansh was still on the team, Finn would have to catch him."
His contributions have helped East Lyme maintain its dominance in the ECC. In Power's two years, the Vikings have yet to lose, finishing a combined 26-0 en route to winning back-to-back division titles. Power's contributions began almost immediately.
As a freshman, Power made it to the quarterfinals of the ECC tournament. In his sophomore year, Power entered the tournament as the second seed, with an opportunity to advance further.
The No. 1 seed, Ledyard senior Nate McCracken, was the only player to defeat him during the regular season, beating him twice. McCracken, however, was upset by Power's teammate Eric Gu in the quarterfinals and Power cruised to the finals where he faced No. 3 William Michelson of Stonington.
Power dropped the first set 6-4, but kept his composure and rebounded quickly, building a 4-1 lead in the second set before winning 6-2. He took that momentum into the final set, winning the first two games and cruising to another 6-2 victory to win his first ECC tournament title.
Even after losing the first set, Power knew what he needed to do to win.
"My main goal against harder opponents is just to get the ball back because I have good speed," he said. "That was how I won the ECC title. (Michelson) was very good and I was just running all over the place and returning it."
"I've done a lot of fitness training for soccer. I had a separate three-hour match earlier in the season and I got cramps. That told me I had to drink more and be better prepared."
"He doesn't get it in his head that he can't beat anybody," Welshock said. "But sometimes the style selection, and he can get too emotional, can possibly affect the opponent. That really was a difference, too, that you can see at the top level ... a mental fortitude that you have to grin and get through the court, especially in singles."
That mental toughness was crucial for Power's comeback victory and his performance throughout the tournament.
"A lot of it was my dedication because I wanted to win the tournament," he said.
Heading into next season, Power already has his sights on another ECC tournament run, and a deeper run in the state tournament. The 14th seed, Power won two matches in the Class M tournament before bowing out in the third round.
"I would love to be No. 1 (in the ECC) again," he said. "I expect to be back and competing for the ECC title and I want to do better in states."
Knowing Power, it isn't at all surprising.
The Day's 2018 All-Area Boys' Tennis Team
Player of the Year - Finn Power (East Lyme)
Davon Chen (East Lyme)
Brandon Donovan (Ledyard)
Eric Gu (East Lyme)
Nate McCracken (Ledyard)
William Michelson (Stonington)
Conrad French-Sujesh Kurumbail (East Lyme)
Chris Charette-Trevor Hutchins (Ledyard)
Morgan Greenho-George Danes (Old Lyme)