On the strength of state championships from its boys and girls doubles teams, Liberty tennis won the Class 1A team state title Saturday at Wilde Lake Tennis Center.
The state team scores are determined by a school’s placings at the state and regional tournaments in the five positions — boys and girls singles, boys and girls doubles and mixed doubles. Liberty scored 46 points, while Pikesville scored 26 to finish second.
“At regionals, I saw it all coming together more as a team and the work in practice was really starting to show dividends,” Liberty coach Tim Brecker said. “People were by far playing their best tennis of the year. ... It was the right time of the year for us, and the results speak for themselves.”
Liberty’s Nikhil Andhavarapu and Arjun Mistry beat Patterson Mill’s Andrew Lee and Walker Milstead, 6-3, 7-5, in the boys doubles final.
“It feels really, really good because this is my first year competing at states. Last year I wasn’t on the lineup, so I wasn’t eligible,” Andhavarapu said. “It feels really good and I’m hopeful I can come back next year as well.”
According to Mistry, the two grew as a team as the year progressed and their wins piled up.
“We started off as two singles players playing doubles, and then we started working well together,” Mistry said.
Andhavarapu added that there is a lot of planning that goes into their matches.
“We try to use strategy with help of our coaches,” he said. “We try to find the weakness in our opponents and exploit that.”
Liberty’s girls doubles team of Madison Haggerty and Grace Maerten beat Imani Groce and Fiona Williamson of Western Tech, 6-3, 6-2.
“The girls have a good fit because they compliment each other. Grace is really smooth ground strokes and Maddi is an excellent volleyer,” Brecker said. “Their games seem to match and work well together, whereas Nikhil and Arjun just have an intense desire to play the game. You can tell they’re always staying after practice and have worked hard to get to the position they are in.”
Liberty’s Honour Zan, the Carroll County boys singles champion, finished his junior season as state runner-up, falling to Boonsboro’s Hunter Liao in Saturday’s final.
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Century twins Evan and Danielle DeLawter repeated their 2A mixed doubles championship they won last year. They beat Poolesville’s Kyra McGlinchey and Varun Das, 6-3, 6-1.
A repeat championship was the goal for the DeLawter twins all season. They turned their sights to states after winning the county championship a few weeks ago with Danielle saying that win “put us in a good head space” heading into regionals and states.
The siblings believe their bond and history give them an edge over most opponents.
“I think we definitely have an edge over some of the other people we play just because of how long we’ve been playing together,” Danielle said after their county win.
At the time, the two said they were hoping their success would make an impact on the school and program.
“Last year, winning was already a big deal. I think we were the first people at Century to win a championship,” Danielle said. “I think we already put tennis on the map kind of and had more people talking about it already. To go another year in a row would mean a lot. With how many seniors we have now, I hope it’s something that will get more people to tryout and be a growing thing for Century tennis.”
“If we keep winning and more people go to states, I think more people would talk about tennis,” Evan said. “If we can even get a team win for Century, hopefully we can get more attention and keep growing the program.”