Virginia AAA tennis

Yorktown's Emily Flickinger beats teammate Esu Erdenebat for Northern Region singles title

By Jason Mackey
Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Yorktown girls' tennis Coach Natalie Roy had her afternoon planned. She would leave her job on Capitol Hill early and bike to Quincy Park in Arlington, stopping at Starbucks for a grande frappuccino on the way.

Once she arrived at the Virginia AAA Northern Region finals, Roy would stay as far away from the courts as possible, careful not to influence the No. 1 singles final, which featured two of her players: junior Emily Flickinger and sophomore Esu Erdenebat.

This, of course, left Roy with a decision, and one she figured would be best dealt with by removing herself from the situation altogether.

"It's my job to coach one player to beat another player," Roy said. "Emily has played for me for three years, Esu has been with me for two. How on Earth can I coach one against the other?"

With Roy occupying her time by talking to parents or flipping through her cellphone, Flickinger earned a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Erdenebat and, in the process, snagged her first-ever region title.

Flickinger -- who attends H-B Woodlawn, which does not have an athletic program, but plays for Yorktown, her neighborhood school -- became frustrated with herself midway through the second set and had to lean on her powerful serve to limit Erdenebat.

"I just wasn't hitting my shots the way I usually do, but I managed to hang in there and pull it out," said Flickinger, who won her third straight National District title earlier this season.

As Flickinger briefly frittered away her lead in the second set before recovering, the two Patriots shared a three-foot-wide bench between games. Flickinger sat with her back to Erdenebat, sipping Gatorade. Erdenebat, turned the other way, didn't go out of her way to initiate conversation either.

"When we're playing against each other, we just try to focus on our match," Erdenebat said.

About 20 minutes after the pair's singles match, Flickinger and Erdenebat joined forces for the No. 1 doubles final, besting Jefferson's tandem of Allie Meng and Nora Lam, 6-0, 6-1.

In the No. 1 boys' singles final at Wakefield, Jefferson's Edwin Zhang defeated Herndon's Philip Nelson via default, the result of a forfeit by Nelson, who was competing at an out-of-state USTA tournament and missed Monday's match.

Zhang then took the court with his doubles partner, Spencer Clark, and the pair knocked off Kevin Castellow and Jim Ferrell of Robinson, 7-5, 6-2, giving Zhang his first two region titles.

Next up, states: The winners and runners-up for boys' and girls' singles, doubles and team competition all advance to the Virginia AAA state tournament, which begins June 5. Don't forget the team: Jefferson won its second consecutive Northern Region boys' team title with a 5-2 victory over Langley last Friday, while the McLean girls topped rival Langley, 5-4.

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