Brailovsky and Akli cap­ture state ti­tles

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

For sev­eral years, Woot­ton ju­nior Joseph Brailovsky had tried and failed to fig­ure out a way to beat the hard-hit­ting Jake Fishkin, a na­tion­ally ranked player from the Bal­ti­more area. The two have met five times in U.S. Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion tour­na­ment matches since 2011 and Fishkin was the win­ner each time.

But none of that mat­tered to Brailovsky when he faced Fishkin, a ju­nior play­ing his first sea­son for Bal­ti­more County’s Pikesville High, in Satur­day af­ter­noon’s Mary­land state boys’ ten­nis sin­gles fi­nal at Wilde Lake Ten­nis Club in Columbia.

Brailovsky, the top seed in the tour­na­ment, neu­tral­ized No. 2 seed Fishkin’s pow­er­ful ground­strokes with his de­fense and was able to em­ploy an ag­gres­sive strat­egy of his own to win the match, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), and suc­cess­fully de­fend his state ti­tle.

“It’s all about the mind-set,” Brailovsky said. “You can’t go into the match off prej­u­dice that he won. I’ve played him so many times. I know what he’s go­ing to do. I know his game style. He knows mine. I just switched it up. I was more ag­gres­sive through­out the match and that worked.”

Up 3-0 in the sec­ond set, Brailovsky started to lose fo­cus and al­lowed Fishkin to hit him off the court. Fishkin even­tu­ally took a 5-4 lead and held a 30-15 ad­van­tage on Brailovsky’s serve when the strings of Fishkin’s racket — his sec­ond — broke.

Fishkin was docked two point penal­ties for de­lay of game as he waited to bor­row an­other player’s racket. That al­lowed Brailovsky to re­group and he would go on to the win that game and even­tu­ally the match, which lasted nearly 21/2 hours in over­cast con­di­tions.

“I think I just stayed strong in mo­ments that Jake could’ve eas­ily turned the match around,” Brailovsky said.

Ear­lier in the day, Wheaton sopho­more Ayana Akli took down three-time de­fend­ing cham­pion Mi­randa Deng of Woot­ton, 6-2, 6-0, to win the Knights’ first state ti­tle in girls’ sin­gles.

With the vic­tory, Akli also fin­ished the sea­son un­de­feated, in­clud­ing three wins over Deng, a se­nior who was aim­ing to be­come the first player since Spring­brook’s Jeri In­gram (1985-’88) to win four Mary­land state sin­gles cham­pi­onships.

“It’s re­ally special, be­cause Wheaton has not won a lot of stuff,” Akli said, “so I’m just re­ally happy I got to rep­re­sent them and win for them.”

In the boys’ dou­bles fi­nal, Churchill ju­nior Wil­liam Karpin­ski and se­nior Michael Chen de­feated the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons, Whit­man se­nior Jack Welch and ju­nior An­drew Le­ung, 6-3, 6-3.

Mar­riotts Ridge’s duo of se­nior Abby Thorn­ton and sopho­more Veron­ica Cueller beat Whit­man’s de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons, se­nior Ca­rina Green­berg and ju­nior Sari­nah Wahl, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), to win the girls’ dou­bles fi­nal.

Wal­ter John­son se­nior Anna Radze­vi­ciute and ju­nior Ethan Kowal­ski de­feated Mount He­bron se­nior Tess We­ber and sopho­more Michael Ki­mack, 6-1, 6-1, in mixed dou­bles to com­plete an­other suc­cess­ful state tour­na­ment for Mont­gomery County play­ers.

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