Boys tennis preview: Wilton, Farrell expecting big season

With perhaps the state’s best player, and a strong supporting cast, the Wilton High boys tennis team begins the season on Wednesday with hopes of finishing in the upper reaches of the FCIAC and state this spring.

“We’re a year more experienced. We’re petty talented and pretty deep. It should be a pretty good year,” said head coach Chris Damone, whose team opens at home against Fairfield Warde. “If we play smart and play good tennis, we have a good chance against anybody.”

The Warriors are led by tri-captains Noah Farrell, Alex Lord and Connor King, all seniors and returning starters from last year’s 10-7 team.

Farrell, in his fourth season at number-one singles, is a strong favorite to win his fourth consecutive Class L state championship. He has lost only four matches the last three seasons.

“He’s looking good. He’s really eager to start playing,” said Damone, who added that Farrell has worked on improving his serve in the off-season, and now has one more way to topple opponents.

“Winning those three state titles, he never really had a big serve,” said Damone. “He’s very smart. He’s a little stronger, and he’s mentally as tough as anyone. Now he has a little more weapons.”

The singles rotation also features five other players who are equally matched and vying for the final four starting spots. They include two returning starters in King and senior Ned Culnane, and two returning varsity players, juniors Garrit Gaillard and Ian Erickson, who have impressed Damone this pre-season. Key newcomers  are sophomores Timmy Sullivan, Nicholas Fiol and Ryan Walsh.

Erickson, King and Culnane all lost in the second round of last year’s Class L tourney.

The doubles rotation will be anchored by the first doubles team of Alex Lord and his brother, sophomore Jordan Lord. Alex played singles during the regular season last year, while Lord played first doubles, but they teamed up for the state tournament and reached the third round before losing to the top-seeded team.

Damone said the Lords would give Wilton a very strong first doubles team.

“They kind of opened my eyes last year,” he sad. “They’re going to be very tough to deal with.”

Second doubles was still being fought over, with one team being returning junior Ryan Black and returning sophomore Alex Hattenbach, and another being returning senior Brandon Turk and freshman Quentin Thouvenot.

Damone said Staples and the two Fairfield teams appeared to be the front runners for FCIAC supremacy, with Wilton and Greenwich also in the mix.

“We should be right around four or five in the league. They’re really excited and they’re really working hard. It’s a great bunch of kids,” he said.

One key, he added, was to get his players to focus on each match, each point, regardless of the opponent, and to “just go out and play ball, and play smarter tennis” this year.

“We focusing on playing one point at a time, and competing.”