The Ithaca High boys tennis team completed a perfect season on Tuesday by defeating Norwich, 6-1, in the Southern Tier Athletic Conference championship match at Cornell’s Reis Tennis Center.
The match was moved indoors due to the weather.
The victory gave Coach Arthur Falkson’s Little Red its second straight STAC title and extended Ithaca’s dual match unbeaten streak to 27.
“The strength of this year’s team was our depth,” Falkson said. “All of our team members made tremendous improvement throughout the season.”
Kevin Huang and Justin Milner both scored straight-set victories at first and second singles, respectively, and Jonathan Gomes did the same at No. 4. Norwich’s only win came at third singles, with Matt Craig outlasting Aidan Mackenzie, 7-6, 7-5.
Ithaca got doubles wins from the duos of Connor Cramton/Josiah Rawlings, Steven Carman/Michael Zhao and Aleksa Basara/Tigran Mehrabyan.
Falkson noted that Ithaca’s three doubles teams went a combined 49-2 this season, and that seventh-grader Zhao, freshman Carman and junior Basara all finished undefeated in dual matches.
Justin Milner and Kevin Huang will represent Ithaca in doubles at the state tournament, this weekend at the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows.
The eighth-ranked Ithaca High boys have made it to the last two state championship games, and will try to keep their hopes alive for a third straight tonight when they meet rival Corning in the Section 4 Class A final.
The game is scheduled for 8 p.m. at Binghamton High’s Alumni Stadium. The winner advances to Saturday’s state regional game, at Union-Endicott’s Ty Cobb Stadium, against the Section 3 champion, either third-ranked Fayetteville-Manlius (17-0) or No. 18 West Genesee (12-5). The Hornets and Wildcats played Tuesday night at the Carrier Dome.
Ithaca (14-2) hasn’t played in more than two weeks, since a 13-11 loss in the regular-season finale on May 14. The 20th-ranked Hawks (13-4) outscored Ithaca in the second half, 9-5, to score the come-from-behind win. The Hawks lost to Ithaca, 13-6, on April 12 in Ithaca.
Coach Frank Welch’s Little Red opened the season with 10 consecutive victories — rising to as high as No. 3 in the nation — before falling in Buffalo to state-ranked Bishop Timon, 14-10.
Ithaca is led by seniors Jaedon Henderson (28 goals, 24 assists, 52 points), Eli Lasda (36-15-51) and Emile Sassone-Lawless (30-19-49). Senior goalie Eh Tha Dah (.520 save percentage) backstops a defense that is allowing 5.4 goals per game.
The Little Red is seeking its fourth consecutive Section 4 championship. In 2010, Ithaca fell in the regional round of the state tournament, then a year later lost a tough 12-11 overtime decision to Farmingdale in the state title game. Ithaca lost to East Islip a year ago, 12-7.
First-year coach Randy Holden brings the Hawks in on a seven-game win streak, during which they’ve avenged two of their four losses — to Ithaca and an earlier 14-4 loss to Binghamton. Holden replaced legendary coach Bob Streeten, who led Corning East and the combined team to a total of 544 wins in 31 seasons, with 13 state final appearances and one title (1990).
Holden was previously an assistant lacrosse coach and head football coach at Corning East. He guided East to a state football championship in 2006.