They didn’t play last spring thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic but the Avon High boys tennis team still had plenty of motivation when it came to the 2021 campaign.
In the previous six seasons before 2020, the Falcons had finished second in the state tournament five times. They didn’t forget who had beaten them along the way – Joel Barlow, who won the Class M title in 2019 and Weston, who beat the Falcons in 2017 and 2018.
No. 2 Avon bounced Joel Barlow in the quarterfinals on Tuesday and eliminated long-time nemesis Weston on Wednesday, 4-0, in the semifinals. On Thursday, the Falcons completed an undefeated season with a 6-1 win over East Lyme at the Newington Racquet Club to win the Class M championship.
Avon (19-0) set a school record for wins in a season and won their first championship since 2013. It was the first undefeated season since 2013 (18-0) and was the sixth title in program history.
“We worked really hard to get where we are,” fourth-year coach Vinnie Costello said. “Our season speaks for itself the way we present ourselves on and off the court we dedicated ourselves right off the bat. It’s all about these kids and how hard they have worked.”
Freshman Liam Hovorka went undefeated at No. 1 singles this season, winning 18 matches. Sophomore Will Mathias played at No. 2 singles with senior Dylan Karp at No. 3 singles and senior Tej Raman at No. 4.
In doubles, senior Thejas Nair and sophomore Amaan Baweja were at No. 1 doubles with junior Ali Rizvi and sophomore Ravi Corrie at No. 2 doubles and junior Pranav Anandavel and freshman Vishant Kandipilli at No. 3 doubles.
The Falcons handed No. 4 East Lyme (17-1) their first defeat of the season in the finals. Eastern Connecticut Conference champion East Lyme had won 69 matches in a row. With the win, Avon extended their dual meet winning streak to 20 matches dating back to the final week of the 2019 season.
Due to the pandemic, the decision was made before the season began to hold a dual meet tournament to determine a state champion to help limit the number people gathering together in one location. In previous years, the team champion in boys tennis was determined by how many singles and doubles matches players won in the individual tournament.
The girls tennis tournament has been a dual meet tournament to determine the team championship since 1989.
The Avon girls were making their fifth appearance in a championship final but top-ranked Hand overwhelmed the Falcons in a 7-0 victory in the Class L final at East Hartford Racquet Club.
Hand (18-2) won their fifth state championship and their third in the last four tournaments contested. The Tigers won Class M titles in 2017 and 2019.
Avon (14-4) was making their first appearance in the finals since 2011. The Falcons lost in the Class M final in 2004 and 2011 and in the Class S final in 1992 and 1995.
Class L championship match
Hand 7, Avon 0
At East Hartford
Singles: Lindsay Riordan (H) def. Kerry Karlin, 6-1, 6-0; Claire Langille (H) def. Delia Hogan, 6-3, 6-2; Laila Haraj-Sai (H) def. Tanvi Arora, 6-4, 7-5; Eileen Chen (H) def. Tanvi Raman, 6-4, 6-4.
Doubles: Breanna Colonese-DiBello and Zhu Zhu Berger (H) def. Kelli Raines and Tanisha Gupta, 7-6, 6-2; Paige VanOstenbridge and Bella Vejar (H) def. Sam and Nan Senthil, 6-4, 6-3; Eliza Beccia and Libby Rogers (H) def. Allison Massih and Adele Oprica, 6-0, 6-0
Records: Hand 18-2, Avon 14-4