The boys varsity tennis team recorded an exciting 4-3 win at home over perennial powerhouse Hopkins School on Wednesday for the first time since the Hilltoppers were added to the Loomis schedule in 2007.
The match started off rather shaky for the Pelicans, as they fell behind in all three doubles matches before turning things around. Senior Kevin Xavier and freshman Langston Woody went down 3-0 quickly but managed to rattle off eight of the next nine games to win 8-4. Senior Eric Li and junior Ken Chandraprasert went back and forth with their opponents all match, eventually winning at No. 3 doubles to seal the doubles point for Loomis.
Rain threatened play all day, and the boys ended up playing through three separate rain showers. While the courts were a bit slick, both teams were determined to finish the tight match.
In singles play, Loomis got off to a strong start with Woody (No. 2), senior Ramesh Shrestha (No. 3), senior Ben Rush (No. 4), and senior Eric Li (No. 6) all winning their first sets. Hopkins fought back, though, winning the second set against Shrestha, Rush, and Li and forcing third set super tie breakers. Meanwhile, Xavier (No. 1) played fantastically and won his second set after dropping the first to his Hopkins opponent. Xavier's comeback forced another third set super tie breaker. Woody was the only player who won his singles match in straight sets.
With Loomis needing two points to close out the match and the entire crowd surrounding his court, Li played a great tie breaker, eventually falling to his opponent 13-11, which evened the match score at 2-2. Shortly after, Xavier won his tie breaker convincingly, putting the Pelicans one point away from victory with captains Rush and Shrestha still on the courts.
Shrestha fought hard but fell to his opponent, leaving the match tied at three points each.
It was up to Rush to capture the win for the Pelicans. In dramatic fashion, he clinched the final point, earning an 11-9 victory, and was swarmed by his teammates.
The match was, without a doubt, the most exciting one of the year, according to head coach Jed Stuart. The win also secured the team a spot in the Class A New England tennis championships, where the Pelicans will face the Zebras of Groton Academy on Saturday, May 19.