Boys tennis: Trumbull's Andy Ilie stands out on biggest stage

Andy Ilie won the Class LL state title as a sophomore.
Andy Ilie won the Class LL state title as a sophomore.

Andy Ilie won the Class M boys tennis championship as a freshman. He didn’t give up a set in winning four straight matches.

Ilie, a sophomore at Trumbull High, added the Class LL title to his treasure chest and then advanced to the State Open final.

Doesn’t the moment every get too big?

“Really it doesn’t,” said Ilie, who first picked up a racket when his dad Laurence told him, ‘Let’s go hit,’ at age four. “I’ve been playing in tournaments since I was seven. The stakes may be higher in some matches, but you go out each time and see what happens.”

Ilie has a 43-3 mark in scholastic matches. He is ranked fourth in the USTA 18U New England Region and trains with Brian Barker and Matt Daly at the Tennis Club of Trumbull.

“I train every week,” Ilie said. “They help me with footwork and ground strokes.”

And when he wants to go hit?

“I’ll still hit with my dad or my brother Justin (age 10), but most of the time I’ll call Evan Felcher.” Felcher, a senior at Staples High, won this year’s State Open with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Ilie on the grand stage at the Connecticut Tennis Center.

“Tennis is a sport you play for life,” Ilie said. “Evan is one of my best friends. It was a tough match, but only one person can win. His return of serve was on point. Your just shake hands.”

Ilie had the upper hand in the Class LL final when he defeated Felcher, the defending champion who will play at the University of Oregon, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.

“My serve was better than ever in Class LL,” Ilie said. “Evan has a way of getting his racket on every ball, but I was able to break serve and win. I grew taller and added some muscle (6-0, 145 pounds). A strong serve gives you confidence.”

Will Teplen, Ilie’s coach at Trumbull, said, “Andy was amazing at the LL final. There are a lot of great players, but Andy and Evan are the top two. Andy’s serve was the best I’ve seen from him. If they met ten times it would be 6-4, 5-5. They are good friends.”

“Andy is very athletic and works hard. He has a good all-around game. We worked on changing his grip and his forehand this season. He became more aggressive at key points.”

Ilie wanted to give a shout out to his mom Claudia and his dad.

“When you get in the car when you are younger and go to tournaments, you never think about it,” Ilie said. “Now I realize how many hours they have spent. It’s a lot of weekends, for a lot of years. I know they are doing it to help me and my brother succeed.”