With wins over Buckingham Browne & Nichols and Roxbury Latin on Saturday in the quarter final and semi final rounds of the New England Prep School "B" Team Championships, Hopkins prepared to square off Sunday afternoon against defending champion Brunswick School of Greenwich, Ct. Earlier in the season, Brunswick had defeated Hopkins to win the Fairchester Tennis League Team Championship in a tight 4--3 match.
Play began with the three doubles contests being played first. Coach Ewen played tenth graders Nolan Paige and Russell Einbinder at #1 doubles, and after an even beginning, Einbinder and Paige caught fire and began putting away volleys to win going away, 8--3. Then at #2 doubles, in what proved to be one of the most pivotal matches of the finals, Bobby Berkowitz and Brian Astrachan used quickness at the net and expert angles to overcome Brunswick's team of hard hitting John Brosens and Kyle Wolstencroft, 8--3. The #3 doubles contest was stopped with Brunswick's Sam King and Matt Shang leading Jerrod Dobkin and Michael Bartimer, 7--3. So Hopkins began by winning the one doubles point.
Attention then shifted to the six singles contests. Brunswick's Matt Mackin at #5 singles used a variety of sliced and hard shots to frustrate Hopkins' Jerrod Dobkin, and even the match at 1--1 with a 6--1, 6--3 victory. But then Hopkins' Nolan Paige at #1 singles soon got the lead back for Hopkins with a 6--3, 6--0 win over Brunswick's Sam King. The other matches began to take a longer time. Hopkins' Brian Astrachan at #4 singles was the next to finish, using penetrating ground strokes and sharp angles to defeat a mentally tough Kyle Wolstencroft, 6--3, 6--2. This put Hopkins in a 3--1 lead. But one can never count the determined Brunswick team out. Tri-captain Bobby Berkowitz at #2 overcame a shaky start to come back to win the second set, but then experienced leg cramps and came up short in a gallant effort by a 6--0, 4--6, 6--2 final outcome. Then Hopkins' Russell Einbinder, who had won the first set against a determined John Brosens, also suffered leg cramps after winning the first set and wound up, despite a valiant effort, on the short end of a 2--6, 6--4, 6--1 decision.
This left the match--and the outcome of the New England Team Championship--in the hands of the #6 singles players--Michael Bartimer of Hopkins and Matt Shang of Brunswick. Michael had won the first set by greater steadiness from the baseline, but then Matt began to become more aggressive and held on to win the second set. But this time it was the Brunswick's player's turn to suffer leg cramps as the third set began. Michael promptly forged ahead to a 4--1 lead in the final set, only to see that lead evaporate as Matt courageously used aggressive forehands to even the set at 4--4. Then, in what seemed to be two interminably long deuce games with extended rallies, Michael finally prevailed on the second match point as Shang slid a backhand approach wide into the doubles alley.
This Hopkins team made history, winning the New England Prep School Team Championship for the first time ever, and doing so in the midst of Hopkins' 350th anniversary as a school. Congratulations to the entire Hopkins boys varsity tennis team on their epic accomplishment in 2010!