In Virginia, a day for state champions to be crowned.
glen allen, va. — Chantilly’s Will Pak stood in the middle of his teammates Saturday afternoon at Deep Run High, his feet planted on the green tennis courts, while his arms made their way outstretched to hoist the shiny Virginia Class 6 boys’ team tennis state championship trophy.
Only a sophomore and the No. 1 player for the Chargers, Pak led his team to the school’s second boys’ tennis state title in the past three years with a 5-0 win over Frank W. Cox.
“He’s a special athlete; you don’t see them too often in high school tennis,” Chantilly Coach Matt Datta said. “He’s only a sophomore, but a true leader on the team.”
Pak won his match, 6-2, 6-0. He had won the Virginia Class 6 state singles title after beating Landstown’s Christian Basnight, 6-0, 6-0, on Thursday.
And on Saturday, Pak’s early win set the tone for the rest of the team.
“We were all pretty loose, but we all knew we had a job to get done and we had to win our matches and do what we had to do no matter if we were on the court or on the sidelines,” Pak said. “We are all here to get a job done.”
Junior Shaun Ganju won, 6-0, 6-2; junior Manu Balasubramanian won, 6-0, 6-1; sophomore Keith Orr won, 6-3, 6-0; and sophomore Manas Kethireddy won, 6-3, 6-4.
“It is a great, great bunch of boys,” Datta said. “A lot of fun. We had a motto in the season, ‘Never give up, never back down’ and that is what they did all year.”
Chantilly fought through a tough slate of matches to reach the state finals, including victories over Oakton and Robinson. Datta said the quality of opponents they had to go through just added to the sweetness of the win, as he looks to the future with a young core of players.
“We will try again, but we are going to savor this one,” Datta said.
The first time Chantilly won a title was 2016, over Cosby, 5-3, in an improbable championship run.
Riverside captures first title
Only three years into its team’s history, Riverside (23-0) won its first Virginia Class 4 boys’ tennis title with a 5-0 victory over Hanover at the Salem Complex. Riverside’s No. 1 Misha Kadyrkaev led the way in a closely fought battle against Hanover’s Turner Cole, winning, 7-6, 6-2.
“It was a long work in progress, we had to piece together a team the first year, and now in three years we have a core group of guys who are very competitive,” Coach Chris Snow said.
Thomas Jefferson (19-0) defeated Mills Godwin, 5-1, in the Virginia Class 5 championship to win its sixth straight title. Jefferson’s Ted Zhou led the way with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Mills Godwin’s Rishi Charan Shankar. Jefferson’s singles match loss was its first all year to a Class 5 team.
Additionally, George Mason beat John Battle, 5-1, to earn the Virginia Class 2 championship and clinch a state-record 16 titles. Mason started off the day strong by rolling past Battle in Nos. 3, 4 and 6 singles to go up 3-0, before ultimately winning at No. 2 singles to take the match.