Gonzaga’s Anton Zykov shook his head in disgust after his return hit the net midway through Wednesday’s Washington Catholic Athletic Conference tennis final, disappointed that he didn’t make clean contact on a serve from Paul VI Catholic’s James Howanitz. No tennis player or team is purely flawless. But Zykov and the Eagles expected perfection at Olney Manor Recreation Park, and that’s exactly how they’ll be remembered.
Zykov capped his sensational four-year, unbeaten career with a dominant 10-1 win over Howanitz in the No. 1 singles, and Gonzaga swept the rest of the singles and doubles matches to win its fourth consecutive WCAC title.
“It hasn’t soaked in yet, hasn’t soaked in yet. It’s definitely cool,” Zykov said of his 51-0 record in career high school matches. “There’s no way you really can’t think about that . . . you’ve got to focus on the match, got to get through the match.”
Zykov got through his last match relatively quickly against the athletic and strong-armed Howanitz, who never threatened. On a day when his serve wasn’t as strong as usual, Zykov used his quickness to send winner after winner Howanitz’s way. Howanitz, who had earned a trip to the final after impressive wins over DeMatha’s Pat Danahy and O’Connell’s Patrick Hughes earlier this week, yelled at himself midway through the match, “You’re beating yourself!”
Playing against Zykov certainly didn’t help, either.
“I was just doing stuff that I know works for me,” said Zykov, who will play at Amherst next year. “Just playing my game.”
After a short break, Zykov and teammate Fred Mesmer cruised to an 8-1 win in No. 1 doubles over Howanitz and Juan Morantes. Zykov’s speed and Mesmer’s length at the net meshed well, and Gonzaga featured a number of skilled players across the board. Mesmer also won the No. 2 singles title over O’Connell’s Abey Yoseph, and other winners included Dominic Perez at No. 3 singles, 10-5 over Good Counsel‘s Reed Joyner; Dan Russell at No. 4 singles, 10-4 over Good Counsel’s Zach Joyner; Tommy Clare at No. 5 singles, 10-3 over Paul VI’s Lino Gallo; P.J. Anderson at No.6 singles, 10-7 over Good Counsel’s Josh Lawrence.
Perez and Clare beat Paul VI’s Colby Emery and Collin Balducci in No. 2 doubles, 7-4, while Russell and Jack Karpinski won in No. 3 doubles, 8-3 over Paul VI’s Ricki Bozek and Gallo.
It was a new height for a dominant program led by Eagles Coach Ariel Laguilles, who has led Gonzaga to five WCAC titles in six years. He was doused with water by his team after the trophy ceremony.
“One thing I told the guys before we started was we could potentially do something really great today,” Laguilles said. “It happens that we did sweep, and I think it’s a remarkable thing. I’m happy that these guys did it. . . . I think it is sinking in right now. I’m soaking wet.”