Evening Sun Report
OWEGO - The lesson for Norwich Saturday afternoon is that every match counts, every point counts.
The Tornado, without the benefit of a tournament champion, repeated as Section IV Class B champions scoring 40 points to outlast runners-up Maine-Endwell and Owego, who each polled 36 points.
The sectional title follows up a STAC Central division title that was clinched last week. NHS head coach John Stewart said it was the first time since 1992 that Norwich swept division and sectional titles.
“I really didn’t think we could win this tournament without winning the doubles,” Stewart said. “In the end, a lot of things right had to happen, and to win all four of our opening matches, that’s what set this up.”
Norwich was the lone team among the nine schools in the tournament to have all four of its entries win their opening-round matchups. Billy Whaley, playing singles for the first time, defeated Owego’s Joshua Raftis, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. NHS’s second entry in doubles, Sal Cole and Roman Cwynar, also won in the opening round downing Oneonta’s McKenna Rowe and Erin Earl-Richardson, 6-7 (8-10), 6-0, 6-1.
Those two wins were worth three team points apiece, Stewart said. “If Billy loses the opening match, Owego wins the team title and we finish in second,” the NHS mentor said.
Norwich sophomore Matt Craig performed at a high level for the second straight year placing third in singles. He beat Maine-Endwell’s Aaron Weintraub, 7-6, 6-1 for third place. Again, a reversal of that outcome would have sent M-E into the winner’s circle. “The last two years, Matt has had that pressure on him to win the match, and we needed him to win again,” Stewart said. “He has proven consistently that he can take that pressure.”
Norwich’s top doubles team, Colin and Zan Stewart, placed second for the second straight year. The NHS sophomore duo won their first three matches before losing in the finals a second straight season to Owego’s Tommy West and Tyler Stickler, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
“Last year we had more of a clear path to victory,” Stewart said. “All of our kids are competitors and everyone fought and played hard. We either won our match or forced the opponent to win. Certain things were not in our control, but when we had the opportunity, it worked in our favor. We had some critical matches from the first round, and one loss anywhere along the way, and we’re out. That made this much more of a team event, and everybody’s victory counted toward the win.”