Battle of tennis unbeatens goes to East Lyme boys
Stonington — Sujesh Kurumbail walked gingerly off the court Tuesday, rarely having it hurt so good. His near two-hour singles match was over, and he paused to account for what hurt throughout his body.
"Everything," he said.
And maybe this was the best illustration of what East Lyme High School faced, in trying to win its 50th straight tennis match: Several players asked to do more than usual, here in the biggie against undefeated Stonington.
"I just told my dad that every tendon in my body is cramping," Kurumbail said, following his 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 win over Sean Bessette in No. 3 singles. "The hardest match I've ever played. But as a team, this was the match we had circled from the beginning."
The Vikings (10-0) played with the requisite urgency, too, earning a 6-1 win to hand Stonington (12-1) its first loss.
"I admit that I was worried, because this is the first time we've been pushed so mentally and physically all season," East Lyme coach Susan Welshock said. "Both teams knew at the beginning of the year this was the match of the season."
Defending ECC singles champion Finn Power won No. 1 singles 6-1, 6-1 over Jake Stiger, while Aditya Kabra won No. 4 singles 6-0, 6-0 over Nathan Gonzalez for the Vikings. Stonington's Will Michelson, who lost to Power in last season's ECC final, won No. 2 singles for the Bears over Eric Gu 6-0, 6-1.
"I was so excited for this," Power said. "Will and I played for three hours last year. This streak we have is kind of amazing."
The Vikings last loss came to Waterford on May 20, 2015.
Jonathan Tan-Guillem Colom, David Li-Ethan Stewart and Jonathan Glander-Sam Gresh won in doubles for East Lyme. Tan and Colom won in three sets, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, whle Li and Stewart rallied for a 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (4) victory.
"I just try to take each match one-by-one," Welshock said. "I don't count. This group really gives their all. They encourage each other. Not one player isolates himself."
Kurumbail said, "I looked around at my other teammates winning points and I knew I just had to do it for them. In the end, it's for your team."