Atholton boys tennis clinches county title

After winning their No. 2 doubles match in a tiebreaker at Marriotts Ridge May 5, Atholton teammates Collin McEwen and Mark Mao felt a little bit like what they were experiencing was not real life.

"It's totally unreal," Mao said.

"It's really just like a story that you'd see in a movie," McEwen said. "And it feels like that too."

What made their win so dramatic was that it came in Atholton's final match of the regular season, and it was the deciding factor in the Raiders' county title clinching win.

After Marriotts Ridge's Cade Buch avenged an earlier loss to Matt Sklar, 9-7; Atholton's George Mao took out Daniel Lee at No. 2 singles, 8-1; and the Atholton mixed doubles team of Grant D'Agrosa and Kirthi Machireddy defeated Mike Walker and Nabeela Mohamed, 8-3, only the two boys doubles teams remained.

Marriotts Ridge's Christian Tringali and Connor Bivens edged Matt Stevens and Daniel Smolyak, 8-5, to square the match up at 2-2, leaving it all up to the No. 2 doubles.

The Mustangs' team of Ben Klawson and Jack Weymer jumped out to a 7-4 lead, but playing from behind did not bother McEwen and Mao.

Earlier this season, the duo trailed Klawson and Weymer, 7-4, and came back to win, 9-7.

"I was definitely aware of what happened last time, as I'm sure they were," Marriotts Ridge coach Scott Dingman said. "Tennis is a tough mental game."

This time, McEwen and Mao came back to tie it, 8-8, before winning the tiebreaker, 7-4.

McEwen and Mao knew exactly what was on the line.

"We always watch the other matches and make sure that we check up on other people, so we knew exactly what situation we were in when it came time at the end there," McEwen said. "That's what really pushed us ahead."

On the girls side, Marriotts Ridge won, 3-2, to improve to 14-1. Mt. Hebron also only has one loss, and the Mustangs still have to make up a match with River Hill after the county tournament, so the girls champion will not be decided until mid-May.

"This is my ninth year here and this is the best season overall we've had," Dingman said. "We've had good girls teams before, we've had good boys teams before, but we've never had both like this at the same time. It's been a great ride."

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