Dixon brothers key to Raiders tennis 13-1 campaign to date. By John Torsiello.
By JOHN TORSIELLO
Scott Dixon was looking for a sport to play during the spring of his sophomore year at Torrington High School. Despite hardly ever picking up a racquet he decided on tennis. Wise move.
Due mostly at first to his athleticism (he also plays soccer), Scott played No. 4 singles his sophomore year and moved up to No. 1 singles the following season, a position he has held this spring.
A year ago Scott was joined by his younger brother, Kevin, who also was looking for a spring sport (he plays soccer and basketball). He, too, chose tennis, a sport he knew a little more about than is brother did when he first walked onto the court.
“I had played some and taken a few lessons at Pinewoods (Health and Racquet Club),” said Kevin, who assumed the No. 4 singles slot as a freshman, posting a 14-2 mark. He started this year at No. 3 singles and moved up to No. 2 part-way into the campaign.
Said 17-year-old Scott, whose professional idol is Rafael Nadal: “Really, I just started playing as a sophomore for fun. But I won the first match I played for the varsity. I surprised myself. Being tall (6-foot-3) helps. I use that to my advantage.”
The beneficiary of the Dixon boys’ decision to pick up tennis racquets in earnest was head coach Mark Moulton, whose team was 13-1 going into the regular season finale against unbeaten Wolcott, the only team to top the Raiders, Thursday on the road.
“They are both tall and very competitive,” said Moulton, as he watched his team warm up prior to Wednesday’s victory over Naugatuck. “Scott has beaten some of the best players in the league and I think Kevin has a chance at pulling off an upset or two at the Naugatuck Valley League tournament. They are both great kids as well.”
The brothers are a formidable doubles team, although they have opted to compete as singles players in the league individual tournament.
“I think we would be the favorites in doubles,” Scott said. ``But I wanted to challenge myself against the best singles players.’’
That was okay with his brother.
``Whatever Scott wanted was fine with me,’’ Kevin said.
If it sounds as though Kevin was simply deferring to the wishes of his older brother, think again. They go at one another hard in practice.
“One of Kevin’s goals before the season began was to beat his brother before the year ended,” Moulton said. ``He’s won some games off him, but he hasn’t gotten him yet in practice.”
The brothers are both 6-3, a fact that helps them on the court.
“It helps my serve and I’m a good returner,” Scott said. “I hustle all the time and like to charge the net when I can. I can use my height there to my advantage.”
Kevin, 15 and an admirer of Roger Federer, believes he has many of the same qualities as a player that his brother has and possesses a strong first serve “when it goes in.”
Scott’s singles record was 12-3 after beating his Naugatuck opponent on Wednesday, while Kevin, who was 14-2 as the fourth singles player last year, moved to 14-1 after his win in the same match.
Despite holding the top spot now, Scott believes his brother can be better than he is by the time he is a senior.
“He’s good and had a little more background in the sport than I did,’’ Scott said. ``He should be No. 1 for the team next year as a junior and will be very good as a senior.”
The brothers don’t exactly come from a tennis family, although their mom, Ann Marie Dixon, plays recreationally. They have an uncle, John Costello of North Carolina, who is an accomplished amateur and has made the trip north to watch his nephews play.
“Our uncle and our father (Scott Dixon) have played us in doubles, but they can’t beat us,” said Scott, who will attend the University of Connecticut in the fall where he hopes to play club tennis.
Torrington will be a top-seed in next week’s NVL team tournament, which will be held at Woodland High School.
“I think we have a good shot at winning,” Scott said. “We will probably have to beat Wolcott, but we have had some good matches with them.”
Torrington lost to Wolcott 7-2 the first time the teams met this season. Scott lost to Wolcott’s No. 1 player Matt Spina 8-2, while Kevin pushed Matt Mastropietro before dropping the match 8-5.
“We should go in no lower than the second seed,” Moulton said. “We will either be 13-2 or 14-1 depending upon what happens in our last match of the regular season. Our previous best record was 15-3 when we played 18 matches during the regular season because we didn’t have a team tournament. We have never had a team that wasn’t at least .500 since I’ve been here and this is one of the better squads I have had.”
The Dixon brothers have been a big part of that success and they hope it continues for a few more weeks.