Mother-son duo emerge victorious at First Niagara Family Classic

The third time proved to be the charm for a Wilton mother-son tennis team, as Wendy and Henry Murphy won their division at the First Niagara Family Classic last week at Yale University in New Haven.

The Wilton duo out of Four Seasons Racquet Club rallied from a set down to defeat Molly and Luzy Carpenter from Club Fit Jefferson Valley (N.Y.) in a hard-fought championship match, 2-6, 7-5 10-7, to win the Mother-Child 12 & Under division.

“It was really exciting,” said Wendy Murphy. “It was a very close match. They were really good. The daughter is going to be a very good youth player.

The Murphys had represented Four Seasons in the tournament twice before. This was the first time they had made it to the finals.

That meant an opportunity to play before a large crowd on the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale University, the fourth-largest stadium court in the world.

Murphy said her son, a seventh grader at Middlebrook School who just turned 13, “rose to the occasion” in the finals, particularly in the deciding third set.

“I was more nervous than him,” she said. “Henry carried us. He really won us the tiebreaker. He just hit some winners.”

The First Niagara Family Classic, now in its 13th year, draws families from throughout New England and New York for friendly competition and a chance to play during the New Haven Open women’s tournament, which features some of the world’s top women’s players.

There are nine different divisions in the First Niagara tourney. This year, more than 1,500 participants competed in more than 75 local events at tennis facilities throughout New England and New York. Local winners advanced to the regional competition at Yale on July 20-21.

All the champions and runner-ups were honored in a Stadium Court ceremony before the quarterfinal round matchup between Caroline Wozniacki and Sloane Stephens. The Murphys had the opportunity to wait in the tunnel off the court during the match, and then joined other finalists in a ceremony that featured Wozniacki, a four-time New Haven Open champ.

Murphy said the ceremony was special, as she saw the relationship that existed between the parents and children, or spouses, and the spirit of competition and sportsmanship that everybody shared.

“This was so good for my child to see. It was just a really nice group of people,” she said.

Both Murphys are year-round players at Four Seasons, where they have played the last six years. Henry, who’s been playing since the age of five, is currently ranked in the top 50 in his age group in New England.