Tennis: Albemarle tops Freedom-South Riding to claim Northwest Region title

Despite a lightning delay that moved the action from outdoor courts to an indoor facility at the University of Virginia on Thursday, Albemarle’s boys tennis squad responded with consistently strong play all afternoon against Freedom-South Riding, winning 5-2 to claim the AAA Northwest Region boys’ tennis team championship in Charlottesville.

With a runner-up finish in the region, the Eagles will still advance to play in the state quarterfinals on May 31 in Newport News. They will meet the winner of the Northern Region, which will be decided in Fairfax next Tuesday.

Menacing weather threatened Thursday’s showdown, and the Patriots seized control despite losing the top two singles matchups. Alex Cragg gave the Eagles the lead early, beating Albamerle’s Doug Corbett in the No. 1 singles match, 6-0, 6-0. Brian Park defeated Boris Yang, 6-4, 6-2, at No. 2 singles, but the Patriots cleaned up the remaining four singles matches and carried a 4-2 lead into doubles. In the No. 3 slot, Albemarle’s Jake Brooks defeated Soren Charmsaz, 6-2, 6-2; Charlie Shepard beat Joseph Kim, 6-3, 6-1 at No. 4; David Grbic beat Timothy Yao in No. 5 singles, 6-2, 6-4; and Joey Michel dropped Anchit Jolla, 6-2, 6-4.

Albamerle clinched the match at No. 3 doubles, as Shepard and Grbic defeated Yao and Jolla, 6-3, 6-2.

Freedom-South Riding, which finished the season 13-8 after graduating eight seniors from last year’s team, is still experienced enough to make a run in the state tournament, Coach John Bell said Thursday.

“We had a significant rebuilding year. To go back all the way to the region finals, given what we had to overcome this year, I’m really proud of the team,” Bell said. “The good thing about our boys is that they’re in great shape, they’re playing their best tennis right now, and they’ve been to states before. So it’s not their first time doing this.”

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