MIDDLETOWN, Conn. — When Stonington High's top boys tennis doubles team is at its best, this is how it goes:
Kyle Remmert hits deep lobs or pinpoint crosscourt shots to take advantage of opponents' weaknesses.
Graham Johnstone patrols the net using his superior lateral movement to feast on weak returns with overheads that no one can get a racket on or angle shots that go off the court.
Stonington coach John Adriano knew Remmert and Johnstone needed to create that scenario as much as possible in the third set of the Class S doubles title match Friday at Wesleyan University.
And they did it often enough to emerge with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory and claim the state title against Morgan seniors Chis Nuzzo and Garrett Johnson, the No. 2 seeds.
"What we tried to do in the third set was get Johnstone more time at the net and Remmert more time at the baseline," Adrian said. "When Graham was serving, we had him coming in and Remmert dropping off. I think that was probably the deciding factor."
The third set did not start well for the Bears. Morgan took the first game and was leading 40-0 in the second game. Stonington was about to find itself in a big hole.
"In the third set, we kept our composure and didn't let our emotions get to us," Remmert said. "We played it point by point and just ended up tying it like we needed to do."
Johnstone said the second game was a big one.
"When times get tough like that, I look at Kyle [and] I pound my chest. We have our little things and we get each other psyched," Johnstone said. "It's a matter of grinding it out with your best friend. We love each other to death. It's whoever is the most clutch, that's what it comes down to."
Remmert and Johnstone, the No. 4 seeds, came back to win the next three points, including a nasty backhand from Johnstone at the net to tie the game.
They played two deuce points, then the Bears took the final two points of the set, with Remmert serving, to tie it, 1-1.
Stonington took the next game, which also went to deuce. The Bears made it 3-1 with a win in the fourth game. Remmert somehow managed to get his racket on two point-blank returns at the net to put the Bears up 40-30 on their way to a win.
The two teams traded the next three games, leaving Stonington with a 4-3 lead.
Stonington took a 5-3 lead when Remmert played an overhead at the net for the deciding point. Remmert's forehand was very effective in the final set.
In the deciding game, Remmert put the Bears up 40-0 with a picture-perfect drop shot and they went on to clinch the title.
"We are complete opposites," Remmert said. "He's like [Rafael] Nadal. He will run down any ball. I would say I am more strategic with my play, like [Roger] Federer. I try to create more opportunities for him with the lobs I hit and the crosscourt shots."
Johnstone ran track last season and as a freshman, but decided to return to tennis this year. He had played tennis as a sophomore and decided to come back this year at Remmert's urging. They are both seniors.
"This year I came to tennis and it was really a gut feeling, and I thought I could do something special with my best friend here," Johnstone said.
Remmert and Johnstone are 19-2 and earned Class S All-State honors by reaching the finals. Nuzzo played No. 1 singles for Morgan this season and was first team All-Shoreline Conference. Johnson played No. 2 (13-5) and was second-team All-Shoreline.
Stonington was awarded the runner-up team plaque after compiling 11 points. The Bears apparently tied Old Lyme for second. Old Lyme had 11 points through the semifinals and had no one playing Friday. But the team points on the CIAC website were not updated Friday.
Litchfield won the team title with 19 points. Litchfield's Charlie Shanks won the singles title in three sets, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, over St. Joseph's Drew Morris on Friday.
Stonington will next compete in the State Open tournament on Sunday at Wesleyan starting noon.