Oak­ton girls top Lan­g­ley for crown

Cougars rally to win boys’ fi­nal over Sax­ons

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY KELYN SOONG kelyn.soong@wash­post.com

Over­come with emo­tion af­ter win­ning her No. 2 dou­bles match, Oak­ton se­nior Alekhya Nan­duri dropped her racket and ran over to em­brace fresh­man team­mate Vic­to­ria Thai with a tear­ful hug.

With the victory, the Cougars swept Lan­g­ley, 5-0, to clinch their first Vir­ginia 6A girls’ ten­nis team ti­tle Satur­day af­ter­noon at Ge­orge Ma­son Uni­ver­sity in Fair­fax. The his­toric win came only hours af­ter the Cougars boys’ ten­nis team claimed its own in­au­gu­ral state ti­tle by beat­ing the Sax­ons, 5-2, in hot and hu­mid con­di­tions.

“It was thrilling,” Nan­duri said. “You have all the adren­a­line push­ing through you and you know you can do it for your school. It feels amaz­ing.”

Boosted by the boys’ victory, Thai and Nan­duri gave the Cougars a quick 2-0 lead by win­ning their No. 3 and No. 4 sin­gles matches, re­spec­tively, in straight sets. Se­nior Vivien Ho added a victory at sixth-flight sin­gles, while ju­nior Lind­sey Le ral­lied to win at No. 2 sin­gles in three sets to set the stage for the sweep.

“When we had four wins, [Oak­ton Coach Lau­ren Car­pen­ter] came over and told us we could be the win­ning match,” Thai said. “That re­ally mo­ti­vated us and we re­ally wanted to be the win­ning match in states.”

The Oak­ton boys’ ten­nis team over­came a slow start to win five straight matches, which started with Cougars se­nior stand­out Adrien Bouchet’s 6-2, 6-1 victory over Lan­g­ley ju­nior Hammy Abuhamda at the top-flight sin­gles.

With his team up 3-2, Oak­ton se­nior cap­tain Josh Castel­lano en­gaged in a marathon-three-set battle with Sax­ons se­nior Suhaas Sin­gireddy. Castel­lano saved two match points in the third set and ral­lied from be­ing down 5-2 in the tiebreaker to win, 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (8-6), to give the Cougars a cru­cial point.

“I didn’t think about all the peo­ple watch­ing me,” Castel­lano said.

Notes: The Jef­fer­son boys’ team beat Deep Run, 5-2, to claim the Vir­ginia 5A team ti­tle and its third straight team tro­phy at Hunt­ing­ton Park in New­port News. Se­niors Kevin Wan and Justin Sun clinched the ti­tle with a win at No. 2 dou­bles. . . .

Mar­shall lost to Mills God­win, 5-3, in the 5A girls’ team fi­nals af­ter 6 1/2 hours of play, which in­cluded a de­lay be­cause of thun­der.

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