IAC boys’ tennis championship: Countee wins singles crown; St. Albans takes team title

Bullis junior Kasey Countee’s name was spelled wrong on the draw sheet at the Ben Johns Interstate Athletic Conference boys’ tennis championship on Monday at Episcopal. The “K” in the his first name was replaced with the more typical “C,” and even though Countee had won the same IAC No. 1 singles title last year, he played as if he was offended by the error against Georgetown Prep’s Nick Mouser.

Officials aren’t likely to make the same mistake come next year. Countee was brilliant in the showcase event Monday, beating Mouser, 6-0, 6-1, to repeat in the No. 1 singles and earn the tournament’s MVP award on a chilly spring afternoon in Alexandria.

“Individually, it’s a good challenge for me to come here and prove myself again,” Countee said. “It’s more to prove to myself, than everyone else. Because I know I can do it, I just have to go out and do it.”

St. Albans won the overall title with 31 points, while host Episcopal finished second with 29 points. Landon and Georgetown Prep earned a share of third place with 28 points overall.

After getting postponed due to showers on Saturday, Monday’s title play was a long, drawn out affair at Episcopal — the final doubles match of the day just beat sundown four hours into competition — but Countee was rarely engaged in troubling back-and-forth play with a capable opponent in Mouser. His most challenging game was the first, which went to multiple deuces and forced Countee to hold his serve. He did, and overpowered Mouser to win the first set 6-0.

“[Mouser] had a pretty good serve too. Get a couple of breaks, here and there, I had to control the match,” said Countee, whose only loss of the season was to Gonzaga’s Anton Zykov. “I think I had a little more pressure on me come in, winning it last year.”

In the No. 2 singles, Bullis’s Darian Hashemzadeh beat Landon’s Gabe Goldberg, 6-3, 6-1, while Episcopal’s Blaise Schuster defeated St. Albans’ Max Bryski in the No. 3 singles final, 6-2, 6-4. The Bulldogs’ Jack Lindsay gave the overall champions an important win over Episcopal’s Michael Weaver in No. 4 singles, 6-3, 6-3.

In No. 1 doubles, Landon’s Deacon Brew and Adam Freed rallied to beat Georgetown Prep’s Max Conway and Gerry Reyes-Varela, 1-6, 6-2, 6-3. Episcopal’s Brett Downing and Teddy Smith secured the No. 2 doubles title over Georgetown Prep’s Victor Eguia and Eric Speicher,6-3, 6-7, 7-6, and St. Albans rounded out its overall win with a hard fought victory in No. 3 doubles, as Ashoka Rao and Blake Bath defeated Landon’s Taylor Bryan and Josh Granader, 7-5, 6-3.

Much changed over the course of the afternoon, including officials correcting the misspelling on Countee’s name on the draw sheet. The sun dropped on the late doubles matches. Several players from different schools arrived late after taking AP exams earlier in the afternoon, including at least one from St. Albans, said Coach Karim Najdi. He was mugged by his team after the Bulldogs were declared the winner, a testament to the squad’s resolve to get through the drawn-out tournament — and season, for that matter.

“Literally, the last 11 weeks have been up and down,” Nadji said. “It’s a tough league. Everybody is really loaded. And being mentally prepared for battle is important.”

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