For the Ridgefield High boys tennis team, there is a sense of immediate urgency.
The Tigers open the season today on the road against Trumbull in what could be a match with post-season ramifications. A 4-3 loss to Trumbull last season was largely responsible for Ridgefield going 8-8 and failing to qualify for the FCIAC playoffs.
“I will say we are confident, and all very hyped for this match,” said first-year Ridgefield head coach Aaron Hyde. “It seems like the boys have some extra encouragement to start the season off well.”
Two of the Tigers’ top returnees are senior captains Andrew Mercorella and Drew Warren. Mercorella played first singles last season, reaching the third round of the Class LL state tournament, while Warren started at first doubles.
Jordan Gilbert, who often teamed with Warren at first doubles in 2016, is the only other senior on Ridgefield’s roster.
Also back are junior Tanner Daubenspeck and sophomore Tadd Long, who played fourth and fifth singles, respectively, last season and then combined to reach the Class LL third round as a doubles team.
Among Ridgefield’s other returning players are junior Shane Bowler and sophomores Harrison Berger, Jamie Crawford and Alec Pool.
A big plus for the Tigers is a strong freshman class that includes Brian Song, a USTA (United States Tennis Association) standout who is ranked 13th in his age group in New England and is considered a three-star recruit, according to the Tennis Recruiting Network.
“We have a great mix of veteran leadership, and young, fierce freshmen that make up our lineup,” said Hyde. “We’re ready for this first match.”