Tennis: Wootton boys’ unbeaten streak continues

April 24, 2013

A few hours after her team defeated Blake in all seven matches Tuesday, Wootton boys’ tennis coach Nia Cresham received a phone call from a former player. It was Anton Kovrigin, a former first team All-Met and current member of Vanderbilt’s men’s tennis club, and he needed Cresham’s help in sprucing up his resume.

“He was saying, Okay, how many state titles did we win when I was captain? How much this and that?” Cresham said. “It all blends into one to me. . . . I’ve been so privileged to have that.”

Now in her sixth season at the helm, Cresham has positioned Wootton as the top tennis program in Montgomery County again this fall. The Patriots have won all nine matches this spring, adding to a four-year unbeaten streak. Cresham said her team hasn’t lost a regular season match since 2008, which spans nearly 60 matches.

A Wootton graduate and former Patriot tennis player, Cresham’s ability to develop her younger players has given the school sustained success. She has lost players like Kovrigin, a two-time first team All-Met in 2010 and 2011, and replaced them with players such as Mateo Cevallos, the team’s current top singles player who is headed to Longwood University next season. But talent alone doesn’t provide the foundation for her team, she said; there are more abstract forces.

“We still have really superlative tennis players,” Cresham said. “It’s just one of those schools that has a confluence of, just kind of, everything. I mean the kids are very friendly and open kids. I mean, it’s a very happy place. It’s real diverse.”

Wootton has blanked seven of nine teams this spring, with Cevallos and junior Titas Bera leading the way. Bera, who is attracting Division I interest from a number of schools, along with the team’s number three singles player, Gabriel Fan, “would be playing number one anywhere else.” And Cresham’s top doubles team, Varun Ganti and Kevin Chan, are among a group of players on the roster that strictly play in pairs, but who would be quality singles players in Cresham’s lineup, she said.

“There’s a little pressure. . . but it’s all fun,” Berra said of playing in a stacked lineup. “As the season keep going on, you get more comfortable.”

Wootton’s toughest test of the regular season will come Wednesday, when it meets division rival Churchill. Berra will be among the returners next year, but Cresham will graduate seven seniors. She’s experienced turnover before, but has still managed to win three county championships and three divisional titles in a row. Kevin Chu won the 2011 state boys’ singles title and Cevalles claimed the title last spring.

“It is incredible,” Cresham said. “They take care of me, they take care of each other. They’re just good, good guys. I’m very lucky.”

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