“There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.”
We could describe the Kingswood-Oxford Invitational Tournament by what it wasn’t – short, warm, easy, conducive to a good night’s sleep – but a look at the positives affirms that this was indeed nineteen hours well spent. We played well, we ate well, we bonded as a team, and we beat Choate – about as much as you could hope for out of a single weekend. At any rate, it’s Sunday night and I haven’t done any work since Thursday, so if anyone ever reads this (hi Mom!), I apologize for my brevity.
The KITT is split into six draws: four singles and two doubles, with eight teams given a single entry in each. We were up against some familiar foes this year, and some new faces rounded out the field: Choate, Hall High School, Hotchkiss, host KO, Lawrenceville, Westminster, and Worcester Academy.
Carl was our #1 singles representative; he blasted through Diehl of Hall on Saturday via a rare double-bagel (Google Translate tells me that’s “dobbel bagel” in Norwegian). His reward was a matchup with blue-chip junior Matthew Lord, currently ranked 31 in the nation in the USTA boys’ 18s. Lord’s quick hands and amazing timing let him take most shots on the rise and place them wherever he wanted; Carl stuck to his game and actually held serve three times, but went down swinging. The next day, he made quick work of Worcester’s top player to earn third place in his draw.
Scott had a tough first match in the #2 draw, losing to perennial foe Scott Ji of Choate in a super-tiebreaker. He breezed through his consolation draw against players from Worcester and Westminster, dropping two games combined.
Darren took down Ekholm of Westy in the first round of the #3 singles draw, but had a tough time with Hotchkiss’ hotshot freshman Maura in the second, losing 0 and 3. He drew Briggs, the human highlight reel, in his third place match. Spectators were not disappointed; Briggs’ tweener passing shot winner was certainly a highlight, but he repeatedly showcased Gold Glove defensive skills and covered the net beautifully. Darren fought hard but went down 8-2.
Alfi dropped his first match in the #4 singles draw to DeSouza of Hotchkiss, 3 and 3, but recovered to win his consolation draw as well, beating the infamous Henry Amory of Westy in the final.
At first doubles, Carl and Matthew were firing on all cylinders as they defeated a team from Lawrenceville 4 and 1 in the first round. They then beat Ballesteros and Ji of Choate in the semifinal, 1 and 4, going down an early break in the second but finishing with some brilliant play to get it back and close it out. In the final, they ran up against the juggernaut Appleton brothers: senior Jacob, who hits the best first volley in the league, and sophomore William, whose all-around game shows few weaknesses. Although our boys went up a break at the very beginning, the Appletons were feeling a home-court advantage. It seemed like Jacob was playing on a trampoline, as he spiked every volley that came remotely near him, and despite some renewed efforts, Carl and Matthew went down a decisive 3 and 2. Still, a second place trophy isn’t half bad.
Scott and Darren beat Worcester’s #2 in swirling winds outside at the end of the first day, and came out firing against Lawrenceville in the semis – up 5-2 with a set point, Lawrenceville’s team defended an overhead and eventually closed out the point, which kickstarted them to reel off five games in a row. Scott and Darren, veterans in their third season together, came storming back to take the second set 6-3, but the wheels came off in the super breaker, where they managed only a single point. They too regrouped, giving Powers and Bellemare of Choate a 4-0 head start before roaring back to take the third place match 8-6 – which, unknown to everyone at the time, clinched fourth place for us.
Five Guys and Chipotle, respectively, proved to be our nightcaps of choice, and we can all hope that this is the last time we see the inside of our dining hall at 6:30 on a weekend morning. We finished behind Kingswood, Hotchkiss, and Lawrenceville, and ahead of Choate, Westy, Worcester, and Hall. Thanks to Andy Krugman of KO for running the tournament so efficiently (we were home in time to watch Danny Willett sneak by Spieth), and thanks to Mrs. Danforth for the support on Saturday.
The fellas have their home opener Wednesday against KO, and play Taft at home on Saturday.
As always, check out @deerfieldtennis for the latest updates. We are apparently on Instagram as well (deerfieldboystennis), but I’m not really sure how that works. Until next time!