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    Friday, June 21, 2024

    CIAC pairings: State tournament starts now for defending champ Stonington boys’ tennis

    Stonington’s Sam Lund, left, and Chase Donnarummo shake hands after scoring against Fitch’s Morgan Fisher and Nick Sousa during the ECC boys’ tennis tournament doubles final at Stonington. The Bears begin defense of their Class S state tournament today against Haddam-Killingworth. (Dana Jensen/The Day).
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    It’s not like there’s any time to ponder a repeat of the Class S state championship from a year ago. The Stonington High School boys’ tennis team begins its quest now.

    Two days after the end of the Eastern Connecticut Conference tournament and without practicing in between due to the weather, the unbeaten and second-seeded Bears open state tournament play at 4:30 p.m. Friday at home against Haddam-Killingworth.

    The CIAC tournament pairings were released Thursday for boys’ and girls’ tennis and boys’ and girls’ lacrosse. Baseball and softball brackets are scheduled to be released Friday.

    “It’s the way it is almost every year,” Stonington boys’ tennis coach John Adriano said. “The ECC championships individually that finished (Wednesday), then one day or two.

    “But it’s not like I’m a football coach and have to study film, game plan. We have seven individual matches and I can’t even watch them all because nobody can watch seven matches at once. I would have liked to have a day to hit with the guys who didn’t play (in the ECC final), but we’ll make the best of it.

    “I have a lot of guys that are pretty experienced. They played a lot of matches this year. They played a lot of matches last year.”

    Stonington’s No. 2 singles player, Brady O’Neil, won the ECC singles title Wednesday over teammate Tucker Callahan, the Bears’ No. 1. Adriano said Stonington’s tournament lineup was already submitted prior to the ECC tournament and that Callahan will remain at No. 1.

    The Bears won last year’s Class S championship over Nonnewaug 6-1. This season, Callahan, who played doubles last year due to chronic pain due from rheumatoid arthritis, returned to the No. 1 slot, bumping O’Neil a spot to No. 2, and Stonington finished 15-0.

    Westbrook (18-0) is the No. 1 seed in Class S, following by the Bears. Other top seeds in boys’ tennis include No. 4 Waterford (11-3) and No. 6 East Lyme (10-3) in Class M.

    In girls’ tennis, the second-seeded Stonington girls are also unbeaten at 15-0 and will begin play Saturday morning in the Class M state tournament against the winner of a play-in game between No. 15 Woodland and No. 18 Hand.

    The Bears were last year’s Class M runner-up, falling to Hand 5-2, but defeated Hand 6-1 on May 19 to complete the 2024 regular season unbeaten.

    “The team was focused at Hand and the results showed,” Stonington coach George Crouse said. “They were smiling all the way home. Our bracket has Hand, Weston and other teams that have made the finals. We’ll take it one match at a time.”

    The Old Lyme girls’ tennis team, meanwhile, has won three straight state championships and will begin vying for a fourth when it faces either No. 15 Bolton or No. 18 Montville on Saturday.

    The Wildcats (16-2) had a 78-match winning streak snapped this season, but they did so while challenging themselves against ECC opponents Stonington (Class M), Waterford (Class M), Fitch (Class L) and East Lyme (Class L).

    “Looking back on our season, I wouldn’t change a thing,” said Old Lyme coach Lauren Rahr, whose team won the Shoreline Conference. “The out-of-conference matches made us stronger, they allowed the girls to grow as individuals on the court.

    “After the matches, we talked about ways they could improve their games and the girls were eager to apply these strategies into the next matches.”

    Among other top seeds, Waterford (12-3), including four-time ECC singles champion Sarah Hage, is the sixth-ranked team in Class M and St. Bernard (11-2) is sixth in Class S.

    The East Lyme boys’ lacrosse team (10-6) is the No. 3 seed in Class M and will open at 6 p.m. Wednesday against No. 14 Woodstock Academy; meanwhile, East Lyme girls’ lacrosse (7-9) is seeded ninth in Class L and will travel to No. 8 Guilford at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

    The seedings in boys’ and girls’ lacrosse are not based on records, but on a “LaxNumbers formula,” which is computed mathematically and takes into consideration goal differential and strength of schedule. That gives both East Lyme teams a bump up based on their strength of schedule.

    Among the losses for the East Lyme girls, for instance, were Class LL programs Staples, Glastonbury and Greenwich.

    “We are always looking to play a difficult schedule,” East Lyme coach Phil Schneider said. “The strength of the ECC helped us, as well, this season. We do feel by playing a difficult schedule we are better prepared for the state tournament.”

    Among other top teams in the lacrosse tournaments, the Bacon Academy boys (13-3) are ranked seventh and St. Bernard-Wheeler (10-6) is eighth in Class S.

    The Fitch girls (13-3) are seventh in Class L, Waterford (14-2) is fifth in Class M and Old Lyme (second, 13-3) and Stonington (fifth, 7-9) are ranked highly in Class S.

    In the baseball brackets which will be released Friday, Waterford (13-7) is seeded seventh in Class M, as of Thursday afternoon. St. Bernard (15-5) is sixth in Class S, with Lyman Memorial (15-5) eighth.

    In softball, Waterford (15-5) is sixth in Class L and East Lyme (14-6) eighth. Stonington (15-5) is seventh in Class M and Bacon Academy (15-5) eighth. And in Class S, Old Lyme (15-4) is sixth and Wheeler (14-4) seventh.

    v.fulkerson@theday.com

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