Orange’s Forchetti falls in State Open boys tennis final

NEW HAVEN >> As a kid growing up, Andrew Forchetti came to watch James Blake hold court at the Connecticut Tennis Center during Blake’s heyday on the ATP Tour.

In just the past few years, the CIAC has worked out an agreement to use the CTC as a site for the State Open singles and doubles finals, both boys and girls — a nice opportunity for high school kids to play in still one of the biggest tennis venues in the country. For Forchetti, an Orange resident, a chance to play for the crown on a picture-perfect Wednesday afternoon.

The junior from Notre Dame-West Haven went toe-to-toe with Evan Felcher from Staples in the first set. Felcher won in a tiebreaker, then won 6-0 in the second set to take the State Open title.

“I had my opportunities, made some very poor shots, learned a lot from it,” Forchetti said. “I’m looking forward to come back and try and win next year.”

It was only the second loss of the season for Forchetti. He didn’t drop a single set as the No. 2 seed in the Class L state tournament.

He won the first two Open matches in straight sets, too, before rallying to beat Andrew Ilie of St. Joseph in three sets in Tuesday’s semifinals.

Felcher transferred into Staples this year and won the LL title. Also a junior, he led Forchetti 4-1 before the Notre Dame product rallied to tie it at 4, then at 5, then broke Felcher to go up 6-5.

“I went up 4-1 and got a little bit comfortable. I should have put my foot on the gas a little bit more,” Felcher said. “Andrew is a really great competitor. That’s tennis for you right there.”

Then Felcher broke back at love to send the first set into a tiebreaker.

“That was poor shot selection by me,” Forchetti said. “I went for too much (on shots) and he took advantage of it.”

Felcher won the tiebreaker 7-2, then easily took care of the second set for his first Open title.

“I definitely stepped up my level a little bit,” Felcher said. “I do think it’s tough mentally to bounce back from that (losing a tiebreaker). I’ve been in that same situation, I definitely understand. It’s fun to compete out here and control what I could control.”

Said Forchetti: “I got off to a slow start in the tiebreaker. He played a better match, he outplayed me, all the credit to him.”

Forchetti was disappointed, but will use the loss as motivation to return to Stadium Court at the CTC next year.

“I knew this could be possible since day one because I know I could compete with any of these kids in the conference (the SCC), or with anybody,” Forchetti said. “I believe in myself. I was down yesterday, broken in the first game of the third set, the first set I got destroyed and came back and won. It takes a lot of heart and guts and I have that.”