FAIRFIELD - The idea popped into Fairfield Prep athletic director Tom Curran’s head a couple of years ago as he was looking to fill an empty space on the Jesuits boys’ tennis schedule.

Why not call Fairfield Ludlowe?

It made a lot of sense. The Falcons have been one of the better teams in the FCIAC, the two schools are just a few miles away so travel would be easy and a lot of the players on both sides are familiar with each other’s games through playing at the local tennis clubs.

So, Curran called. Ludlowe coach Andy Jorgensen felt it was a great idea and just like that, a rivalry was born. Last year, before Mother Nature ended the festivities early with rain, the Jesuits held a 4-1 lead. This time, under partly cloudly skies, Prep took a very competitive 5-2 decision over the Falcons at the Ludlowe courts.

“Every match was extremely competitive,” Jorgensen said. “A lot of these boys know each other anyway, they play in the same indoor clubs up in Trumbull and they know each other’s games and what not, but it was exactly what I thought it would be, every match very competitive.”

Prep’s No. 1 and No. 2 singles players, Chris Hilton (6-4, 6-1) and Nash Lovallo (6-4, 6-1) won their matches to get the Jesuits going but the Falcons rallied back at No. 3 and No. 4 singles as David Poudrier (7-6, 7-5) and Griffin Forberg (6-4, 6-4) won to even the match at 2-2.

It was the doubles, however, that gave Prep the victory as Nick Allen and Brian Donahue at No. 1 (6-0, 4-6, 6-4), Pierce Barry and Ethan Fabro at No. 2 (6-2, 7-5) and Julian Richtarich and Kyle Barry at No. 3 (6-1, 6-4) all won to give the Jesuits the decision.

“That’s the hard part about the season,” Prep coach Harold Prather said. “You get these matches that are easy and you cherish the ones that are tough and competitive. This gives them a chance to find out how to play in competitive matches, so it’s been really good.”

Hilton - who started on the Prep singles’ ladder at No. 4 as a freshman and is now No. 1 as a junior - won four of his first five games against Luldowe’s Sam Slobin but Slobin rallied to get within 5-4 before Hilton closed out the set. In the second set, Hilton started getting Slobin to move and opened a quick 3-0 lead.

“In the first set, I thought I could get to the net more, I thought I was missing some baseline shots so in the second set, I tried to serve and volley more and attack the net more and it worked out well,” Hilton said. “I wanted to make him move and if I could get him to come to the net, that would be good too. I felt I could beat him at the net.”

Lovallo’s game plan was fairly simple - get, and stay, comfortable.

“I didn’t really change anything up I just started getting into a rhythm and getting to more balls than I did in the first set,” he said. “I just try to keep my game simple and get to as any balls as I can.”

Thanks, however, to impressive wins from Poudrier and Forberg, Ludlowe was able to climb back into the match.

“David … he’s got a big forehand,” Jorgensen said. “He comes off sometimes as lackadaisical and that makes him hard to play. Sometimes you can’t read his body language but he always seem to pull it out. The same thing Griffin, he gets to a lot of balls, he’s a grinder and has got a big heart.”

And while Prep’s doubles’ teams proved to be the difference, both sides were pleased with the results.

“This is a great test for us and for Prep,” Jorgensen said. “We’ve only had three practices so this is good to see what chemistry we have, especially in the doubles. This is probably the best our doubles teams have been in five or six years … you have to have competitive doubles matches.”

The victory evened Prep’s record at 3-3 while Ludlowe dropped to 3-2.

“It’s one of the top matches on our calendar now, it’s good,” Jorgensen said. “We’re going to keep running with it for a long time.”

“We’ve been doing this the last couple of years, it’s good,” added Prather. “My AD put it together and Andy’s a good guy, so we said, ‘why not?’ it’s been good.”

celsberry@ctpost.com