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Avon dominates Joel Barlow to win second straight Class M crown

Avon High coach Vinny Costello and the Falcons celebrate after winning a second straight Class M championship Saturday in Middletown.

MIDDLETOWN, June 4, 2022 – After an undefeated season and a Class M state championship in 2021, the Avon High boys tennis team knew teams would be coming after them, looking to knock the crown off the reigning champions.

That crown still sits firmly with the Falcons.

Top-seed Avon won six of seven matches to beat No. 7 Joel Barlow, 6-1 on Saturday to their second straight Class M championship and the seventh state championship in the team’s history. Avon (21-0) snapped the team record for most wins in a single season that was set a year ago.

“The pressure is always on for us to come back and to repeat again,” fifth-year coach Vinnie Costello said. “The kids have battled hard all season. I couldn’t ask for anything more. I am super proud of our team. We battled and played consistently all year.”

The Falcons won the CCC West championship and went 17-0 in the regular season with just five matches that the opposition won at least one match against Avon.

The closest match of the season was probably in early April in a 4-3 win over Hand, Costello said. The Tigers led 3-1 before victories from three of Avon’s four singles players pulled out the victory. No. 2 singles player Will Mathias had to win a tiebreaker to force a third set, which he won. No. 4 singles player Vishant Kandipilli also won a third set to earn a key point.

“We’re more than just a team. We’re a band of brothers We’re amazing friends so we’re all playing for each other each match .. We’re all confident in our games. Honestly we would have liked a little more competition.

Ali Rizvi, the only senior in the 10-man starting lineup, said, “We’re more than just a team. We’re a band of brothers We’re amazing friends, so we’re all playing for each other each match.”

Avon celebrates a state championship in boys tennis Saturday after beating Joel Barlow, 6-1 on Saturday.

In Saturday’s championship match under sunny skies at Wesleyan University, Joel Barlow (13-5) earned a point with Wesley Nichols outlasting Avon’s No. 1 singles player Liam Hovarka, 7-5, 1-6, 11-9. But Avon was able to sweep the remaining matches to win the championship.

Avon’s Will Mathias won a third set tiebreaker to pick up a point at No. 2 singles while Ryan Horvarka (No. 3 singles) and Vishant Kandipilli (No. 4) earned straight set victories.

In doubles, Avon’s three teams of Ali Rizvi/Amaan Baweja, Mike Chen/Ravi Corrie and Aadarsh Senthil/Preston Abshire lost just four games in the three matches.

Avon hasn’t lost a match in the last two seasons. They went 19-0 a year ago, so this current squad has won 40 consecutive matches as well as a pair of state championships.

“You can’t ask for anything more than that,” Costello said.

The Falcons have actually won 41 consecutive matches. They won the final bout of the 2019 season with the 2020 season being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Avon rolled through the tournament with a 7-0 win over Bethel, a 7-0 victory over Branford and a 6-1 win over Weston in the semifinals.

And the Falcons won their CCC West championship with wins over four Class LL programs (Glastonbury, Hall, Conard, Southington) and two Class L schools (Farmington, Simsbury).

Avon’s Will Mathias returns a shot during Saturday’s state championship match with Joel Barlow in Middletown.

Avon 6, Joel Barlow 1
At Middletown
Singles:
Wesley Nichols (JB) def. Liam Hovarka, 7-5, 1-6, 11-9 (pro set), Will Mathias (A) def. Tyson Nichols 6-3, 7-6 (8-6); Ryan Hovarka (A) def. Jalen Johnson, 6-4, 6-2; Vishant Kandipilli (A) def. Matthew Szogas, 6-0, 6-2
Doubles: Ali Rizvi/Amaan Baweja (A) def. Jay Hill/Brandon Madden 6-1, 6-2; Mike Chen/Ravi Corrie (A) def. Alex Taranto/T.J Silhavy, 6-1, 6-0; Aadarsh Senthil/Preston Abshire (A) def. Kristian Pavel/Judah Friedman, 6-0, 6-0
Records: Avon 21-0, Joel Barlow 13-5

Avon 6, Weston 1
At Avon
Singles:
Liam Hovarka (A) def. Alex Sanok, 6-0, 6-0; Will Mathia (A) def. Rohak Gulia, 6-3, 6-2; Ryan Hovarka (A) def. Kyle Barry 6-0, 6-0; Vishant Kandipilli (A) def. Edward Ye, 6-0, 6-2
Doubles: Ali Rizvi/Amaan Baweja (A) def. Henry Collins/Matt Latenbach, 7-5, 6-0; Harrison May/Felix Lovit (W) def. Mike Chen/Ravi Corrie, 2-6, 7-5, 6-4; Aadarsh Senthil/Preston Abshire (A) def. Dan Oren/Stepp Nadelman, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1
Records: Avon 20-0, Weston 15-5

2022 CCC West standings

Lg. Overall
x-Avon 7-0 17-0
Glastonbury 6-1 13-1
Hall 5-2 16-3
Farmington 4-3 11-3
Simsbury 2-5 8-8
Conard 2-5 10-7
NW Catholic 2-5 12-8
Southington 0-7 8-9
x-won division title

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 35 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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