WEST HAVEN, CT - The theme of the title matches at the USTA New England Junior Section Championships at Yale University was "good friends, great tennis."
In both the boys' and girls' 18s championships contests, players who have grown up together took center stage and set aside their friendships for a couple hours to decide a winner.
Marblehead, MA resident Ashley Noyes topped training partner Sophie Panarese, 6-4, 6-1, to win a championship.
Noyes, who went undefeated for Marblehead High in the spring, trains at Manchester Athletic Club with Panarese, a Milton, Mass. resident, who will play tennis for Georgetown University next year.
"It was funny because we play against each other a lot, and we were kind of joking around a few weeks ago, talking about how we could meet in the final," Noyes said. "It was tough because we know each other so well, but we're both good sports and support each other, so it was also exciting at the same time."
In the boys' 18s, meanwhile, lifelong pals Nolan Paige (Fairfield) and Daniel Hirschberg (Westport) did something they've done about 40 times since they first met as 5-year-olds - went head to head.
Paige wound up the winner, 6-3, 6-2, in a match with a few interesting sub-plots.
"Danny and I have known each other for a long time and, since we only live a town away from each other, we have the chance to play a lot," Paige said. "We actually played three sets last week to get ready for the tournament."
Hirschberg, who will play for Brown University next year, won the Connecticut state high school championship in June.
Hirschberg had a tough road to the final, posting wins over North Carolina State-bound Beck Bond (Meriden, CT) and two-time Massachusetts state high school champion Alex Steinroeder (Concord, MA).
"Danny is definitely one of the top players in New England, without question," Paige said. "It was no fluke that he reached the final. He is playing some awesome tennis, and beat some really good players."
While Paige, a repeat Section champion and arguably New England's most talented player, didn't shock many with his championship, the winner of the boys' 16s certainly did.
Williston, VT's David Ro, who was unseeded, fought his way to the title match by virtue of a semifinal win over No. 2 seed Dylan Fletcher (Stow, MA), and then stunned top seed Rohan Shastri (Williamstown, MA), 6-2, 1-6, 7-6(5).
Ro became the first unseeded player to win a Section title since Will Spector did so in 2008.
Winchester, MA star Nicole Frenkel, who last year won a championship at the Orange Bowl, continued to add to her list of titles with a win in the girls' 16s. Frenkel topped Ellyse Hamlin (Fairfield, CT), 6-2, 6-1.
Meghan Kelley of Falmouth, Maine lived up to her No. 1 seeding in the 14s, beating Lexi Milunovich (New Canaan, CT) in the championship match.
In the boys' 14s, Charles Shewalter (Winchester, MA) picked up a title with a win over No. 1 seed Weston Brach (Dover, MA).
In girls' 12s, Darien, CT resident Caroline Dunleavy defeated Grace Joyce (Newton, MA), 6-2, 6-3.
Will Barry (Beverly, MA) earned the championship in boys' 12s, when the top seed beat Cam Mazzoni (South Dennis, MA).