Coming into their showdown with the previously unbeaten Centennial boys on April 23, River Hill tennis coach Jennifer Stoker predicted that the match would come down to the doubles.
“It's going to be hard for anyone to beat my team in singles,” Stoker said after her boys beat Atholton, 3-2, one day before. “It's just going to come down to doubles again.”
It turns out that Stoker's prediction wasn't entirely accurate, but she's not complaining with the end result.
River Hill beat visiting Centennial, 3-2, on a win at No. 2 singles by freshman Alec Angradi.
Angradi defeated Centennial's Chase Weinberg, who was third at regionals last year, 8-5, after trailing 5-2.
“I heard he was really consistent so I was just trying to break him down and wait for my opportunities,” said Angradi, who didn’t realize his win was the deciding factor until he walked off the court. “I was overwhelmed and just really happy that I was able to help beat Centennial.”
“Alec played the best tennis of the season so far of anyone I've seen,” Stoker said.
River Hill's No. 1 doubles team of Nick Zhu and David Gerry, who clinched the win over Atholton on April 22, continued to roll with a win against Centennial on Tuesday.
“Nick Zhu and David Gerry are continuing to win and playing better and better as a team together so I am really happy about that,” Stoker said.
River Hill’s mixed doubles team of Sashant Palli and Kiera Hanrahan accounted for the Hawks’ other win.
Kevin Hsieh, at No. 1 singles, won a key match for the Eagles, defeating Glenelg transfer Byron Hung by a close, 8-5, score. The No. 2 doubles team of Farhan Bader and Andrew Tsai scored Centennial’s other win, battling River Hill’s Eric Lee and Shasta Braithwaite to a tough, 8-6 victory.
The girls match was also very close, as River Hill won, 3-2, on Caitlin Stewart-Moore's 8-6 win at No. 1 singles. Lexi Hackerman put up a great fight for the Eagles, falling 8-6.
At No. 2 doubles, Centennial's Ally and Gaby Schito forced a tiebreak at 8-8, but ultimately fell to River Hill's Chelsea English and Neha Wadhavka.
“My team played well and I am very proud of all my players,” said Centennial coach Erin Fisher. “River Hill is a tough team to beat and I think Centennial made them work hard for their win.”
The River Hill girls got their third win from the mixed doubles team of Sarah Grunsfeld and Waldo Vazquez.
Centennial’s points came from Lavanya Garnepudi at No. 2 singles and the No. 1 doubles team of Simone Jensen and Megan Mishra.
As the favorites to earn top seeds in the singles brackets at the upcoming county tournament, Reservoir’s Biyik Akinshemoyin — the defending boys county champion and a 2012 state finalist — and Atholton’s Victoria Kogan, also the defending girls county champion, have yet to drop a match this year.
Glenelg Country falls to Spalding
Glenelg Country (5-1) lost for the first time this season at Archbishop Spalding (6-0) on April 25 in a battle of undefeated teams.
The Dragons got convincing wins from their top two singles, sophomore Ryan Lundergan and senior Evan Schlick, but lost at No. 3 singles and both doubles.
Lundergan, who was an MIAA B Conference finalist last year in doubles play, has made a stunning transition to No. 1 singles this year.
“He hasn’t lost, it’s pretty astounding,” said coach Dennis Cochran of the 5-foot-3 sophomore. “I know he had been working all offseason ... tenacity and footwork. He’s like a time warp moving around the court. He probably has the quickest footwork of anyone I’ve ever coached.”