Warde’s Kuzmenok, Staples’ Brodsky and Guadarrama win CIAC boys tennis invitational crowns

MIDDLETOWN — After winning the first set of his championship singles match on Friday, Warde’s Petro Kuzmenok was sure of one thing: This was going to be a difficult fight against Staples’ Tighe Brunetti.

The approach worked well and, for the second consecutive year, Kuzmenok is a state singles champion.

The second-seeded Kuzmenok held off the top-seeded Brunetti for a 6-4, 6-2 victory in the CIAC Boys Tennis Invitational final Friday at Wesleyan University.

Kuzmenok had beaten Brunetti in last year’s semifinals, but Brunetti had won their regular-season meeting this spring.

“I knew going into the match if I won the first set or if he won the first set, the other player was going keep fighting,” Kuzmenok said. “Were both great competitors and no one would ever give up, so you have to keep playing, keep pressing and hope it works out and fortunately it did.”

Last year, Kuzmenok said he benefitted from work he had done on his serve during the pandemic, and that serve was a factor yet again as he went 5-0 this week.

“My serve was really good in this match particularly,” Kuzmenok said. “I was able to get it really wide and have a lot of easier holds. When you have a reliable serve, there’s not as much pressure and it was convenient that it worked out today.”

In the doubles, final, Staples senior Luke Brodsky also repeated as an Invitational champion, this time winning with a different partner.

Brodsky and Alex Guadarrama, a junior, won a seesaw battle with Darien’s Anders Hanson and Sam Donnelly 6-4, 0-6, 6-2.

Brodsky took the double title with Bradley Sheppard last spring, but when Shappard graduated, Brodsky was left looking for a new partner.

He was eventually paired with Guadarrama.

“I thought Alex fit how I played most,” Brodsky said. “From there we kind of bonded and created a good team. We just work together very well.”

Seeded second, the Staples’ duo went 4-0, including the victory over the No. 1 seed from Darien, which had been undefeated.

The Wave also had momentum, as Hanson and Donnelly rebounded from a first-set loss to win the second set 6-0.

After a short break, Staples took the first game of the third set to regain some momentum.

“It was reset, focus, and putting the second set behind us,” Guadarrama said. “That first game really mattered.”

“It changed the whole dynamic of the rest of the match,” Brodsky said.

The Wreckers jumped out, gained the lead, and went on to win 6-2.

For Brodsky, it was a great way to end his tennis career.

For Kuzmenok, the beat goes on, as he will have a chance at a three-peat next spring.

“I’m really excited for next year,” Kuzmenok said. “Hopefully, I’ll play well again and we’ll see if I can get three in a row. But there’s still a lot of good people left, so I’ll have to work hard to do it again.”

david.stewart@hearstmediact.com; @dstewartsports


Singles championship: No. 2 Petro Kuzmenok (Warde) def. No. 1 Tighe Brunetti (Staples) 6-4, 6-2; Doubles championship: No. 2 Luke Brodsky/Alex Guadarrama (Staples) def. No. 1 Anders Hanson/Sam Donnelly (Darien) 6-4, 0-6, 6-2.