Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend

Deep Run boys hungry for another shot at title

After lost season, Wildcats playing for a breakthrou­gh

- BY TIM PEARRELL Ty Colina. tpearrell@timesdispa­tch.com (804) 649-6965 Twitter: @timpearrel­ltd

The window of opportunit­y remains open for the Deep Run boys tennis team, although it closed a little bit with last year’s shut down of high school spring sports.

Deep Run finished as the Class 5 state runnerup to nemesis Thomas Jefferson S&T of Alexandria in 2019 with a squad mostly comprising freshmen and a sophomore.

The Wildcats weren’t able to get another shot after spring sports were shuttered last season because of the pandemic.

“It was awful,” Deep Run coach Elliot Wegman said. “I remember the Deep Run girls had sort of like this golden era of this big group of freshmen that came in and they dominated for four years. I was like, that could be us.

“We lost a year of the timeline, which was really sad. But we’re back. We look really strong. I’m optimistic.”

Deep Run’s girls won three state titles in four years from 2016-2019, a run that was interrupte­d only with a runner-up finish to George Marshall in 2017.

The boys bring back five of their top six: junior Siddharth Pande at No. 1; junior Aden Bashir, who moves up to No. 2; junior Hatcher Butterwort­h at No. 4; junior Vyas Narasimhan at No. 5; and senior Braxton Fagan at No. 6. Pande was a first-team All-Metro pick as a freshman.

Freshman Zach Fleishman moves in at No. 3.

“He’s definitely one of the best freshmen we’ve ever had, including this group that came in a couple of years ago,” Wegman said.

Fagan has been out with a back injury but returned to play doubles this week. Narasimhan has been out with a knee issue; Wegman is hoping he’ll be back at some point.

Thomas Jefferson S&T has won seven state titles in a row. Four of those titles have come against Deep Run: in 2019, 2016, 2015 and 2014. TJ beat Mills Godwin in 2018.

“The championsh­ip probably goes through them,” Wegman said.

Deep Run has handled Freeman (9-0), Glen Allen (9-0), Varina (9-0), Godwin (6-1) and Maggie Walker (9-0) this season. Others to watch:

Mills Godwin, with firstteam All-Metro pick Drew Campbell, has beaten Maggie Walker Governor’s School 8-1. J.R. Tucker (5-4) and Freeman (5-4) also have topped MWGS, which has won five of the past six state titles in Class 2.

Class 6 Cosby has been strong with No. 1 Connor Johnson (senior) and juniors Casey Coffee,

Josh Laramore and Tanner Allison. The Titans beat James River 8-1, with James River’s Zain Quader knocking off Johnson, a second-team All-Metro pick in 2019, in three sets. Freshman Andrew Kim is No. 2 for the Rapids.

Hanover, the Class 4 state runner-up in 2019 and 2018, has rolled against its county-only schedule with junior Ethan Belote, senior Charles Adams and senior Carson Brooks. Belote was part of a state runner-up doubles team in 2019.

Goochland sophomore Evan Bernstine is trying to carry on a state title tradition establishe­d by his brothers, Chase and Ryan, who between them won the past five Class 2 state singles titles. The Bulldogs, who lost 8-1 to Collegiate but have easily won their other three matches, have four seniors, including Adam Webb at No. 2.

St. Christophe­r’s has not been challenged in the private school ranks. The Saints sport ‘very good depth,’ according to coach Richard Peyton, and they’re relatively young, with junior Will Thompson (first team all-state in 2019, secondteam All-Metro), senior Talman Ramsey (second team all-state in 2019), sophomores Brendon Engel and Evan Fisher, junior Mason King and sophomore Jake Kuhlen. The Saints are 8-0, with shutout victories in all but three matches. They have 8-1 and 6-0 wins over

Collegiate, led by junior

 ?? MARK GORMUS/TIMES-DISPATCH ?? Junior Siddharth Pande, an All-Metro pick in 2019, leads a group of five returners for Deep Run.
MARK GORMUS/TIMES-DISPATCH Junior Siddharth Pande, an All-Metro pick in 2019, leads a group of five returners for Deep Run.

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