Trumbull's Andrew Ilie wins State Open tennis championship
MIDDLETOWN — A semifinalist as a freshman, a finalist as a sophomore and a champion his junior season.
That’s the progression Trumbull’s Andrew Ilie has made at the CIAC State Open Boys Tennis Tournament each year.
Wednesday, Ilie put the finishing touch on his memorable season by winning his second championship in as many weeks.
Consistent throughout, Ilie registered a 6-2, 6-3 win over Darien’s Michael Karr to capture the State Open singles title at Wesleyan University.
“My first two years I was so close,” said Ilie, who lost to Staples 2018 graduate Evan Felcher in the championship match a year ago. “My freshman year, I lost in the semifinals in three sets and last year I lost to Evan in the finals. This year, to get the opportunity to win it definitely feels great.”
Ilie’s victory in the State Open singles final came after he beat Westhill’s Jordan Soifer for the Class LL singles championship last week. Last season, also saw Ilie win the Class LL singles championship.
In the singles final, Ilie held serve, then converted a break point to take a 3-1 lead in the opening set.
“I came in trying to be aggressive, controlling the point,” Ilie said. “I didn’t want to give him too many opportunities, so I tried moving him around and tried to hit a lot of winners.”
Karr, who defeated Wilton’s Nick Condos in three sets for the Class L singles championship a week ago, held serve to even the second set at 3-3. Ilie held, then broke to go ahead, 5-3.
“I thought he played a very solid match,” Karr said. “It was hard to find an opening the entire match. He served well, returned well and it was just hard for me to create any type of winner.”
Ilie capitalized the well-placed serves that boomed off his racket throughout.
“He had one game where he served four aces, and there was nothing I can do about it,” Karr said. “It was just one of those days where he was just hitting all the shots.”
Karr, who starred at first singles for Darien all season, rejoined the Blue Wave squad this spring after concentrating on junior tennis his sophomore and junior year. He will bring his tennis skills to Butler University.
“Being part of the team was a great experience,” said Karr, who defeated Soifer in Tuesday’s semifinals. “It helped me get the feel for team tennis going into college. Everyone supported me, I supported them, there was great teamwork throughout the season.”
Ilie finishes the season with a record of 23-1. He went 13-1 during the regular season, his lone loss coming against Condos, and he was a perfect 10-0 during the postseason.
“Nick (Condos) is a great player,” Ilie said. “I lost to him pretty bad in the regular season, so I used it as motivation to work harder and work on my game. The semifinal was a close match and it could have gone either way.”
Like Karr, Ilie will play in several junior circuit tournaments over the summer. Ilie is planning on competing in a USTA sectional tournament at Wesleyan, a national clay court competition and the junior nationals. He entered Wednesday’s State Open finals especially focused.
“This year I felt those nerves, I really wanted to win it,” Ilie said. “It was the only thing I haven’t won in my high school career. This is the stage I wanted to be. In the final, competing for the championship.”