Ben Johns IAC tennis tournament: Dan Gray of Bullis wins to cap perfect conference career
By Greg Schimmel,
In his four years playing tennis at Bullis, nobody in the Interstate Athletic Conference has been able to beat Dan Gray’s overpowering serve.
So, at the Ben Johns IAC Tournament at Episcopal on Saturday, it was no surprise the Bulldog senior’s serve carried him again.
“It’s my number-one thing,” Gray said. “Without my serve, I don’t know if I would win some of these matches.”
The UMBC-bound Gray defeated St. Albans senior Peter Kasper, 6-4, 6-4, to win the No. 1 singles title and finish his career undefeated in conference matches.
Gray’s streak continued, but his team’s was snapped, as St. Albans won the team championship for the first time since 1992 after Bullis had won it six years in a row.
St. Albans finished with 37 tournament points, while Bullis came in second with 36 and Episcopal finished third with 29.
Tournament points earned in the Ben Johns tournament combine with the points teams earned for their place in the regular season standings, and St. Albans won the overall league title as well.
“It’s not something that happens every year,” St. Albans Coach Karim Najdi said. “Maybe for Bullis, but for us it’s been almost 20 years, so we are very, very happy.”
In the No. 1 singles match, Gray lost his serve only once, and he broke Kasper in the next game early in the second set to regain control of the match.
Gray won the league’s No. 4 singles title as a freshman, the No. 3 singles title as a sophomore and No. 2 singles title as a junior, and he knew he could dictate the points if his serve was on.
“I was serving well and it helped my win,” Gray said. “I thought I was in control of a lot of the points.”
The team championship came down the last doubles match to finish – the No. 1 doubles final between St. Albans’s Ed Bell and Kian Sharafi and Landon’s Adam Freed and Nicky Tawlar.
A win by the Landon duo would have given Bullis a share of the team title, but Bell and Sharafi won, 6-4, 6-3, to clinch the win for St. Albans outright.
Bullis claimed a tournament-high four individual championships: Kasey Countee won the No. 2 singles championship, 6-1, 6-0, over Episcopal’s Chris Cindrich; Reginald Lesesne beat St. Albans’s Nick Bayh, 7-5, 6-2, in the No. 3 singles final; and Danny Copeland and Chris Jaffe won the No. 2 doubles final, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, over St. Albans’s Michael Lindsey and Alex Gilbert.
St. Albans’s Gibson Johns won the No. 4 singles final, 6-3, 6-2, in a huge swing match against Bullis’s Sama Bahadoric, and Austin Van Namen and Nick Bordeaux beat Episcopal’s Francis Beach and Teddy Smith to win No. 2 doubles.