Michael James's usually potent first serve was not working at the Virginia AAA singles' final Saturday. It didn't matter.
The Centreville senior and Penn State-bound All-Met dispatched Brock Newton of Patrick Henry-Roanoke, 6-0, 6-1, winning his second consecutive state title in 44 minutes at Huntington Park Tennis Center.
James had trouble keeping his first serve in play -- the match umpire even joked with him about it afterward -- but he racked up 24 winners in addition to five service winners and one ace. Newton, meantime, made 24 errors to seven winners.
"I was hitting the corners and driving the ball," said James, who is a perfect 44-0 in high school singles over the past two seasons. "I knew if I drove the ball to the corners it would set up the short return, and give me a chance to put the ball away. My second serve was great today, too."
James yielded only four points on his serve in the first set. He won seven consecutive games before Newton was able to hold serve and tie the second set at 1. But James lost only five points over the next five games to lock up the championship.
"He played solid," said Newton, who suffered his second loss of the season. "I didn't have much time do anything differently. He was more consistent. He played like he should be going to Penn State."
With the victory, James became the seventh player in the history of the AAA boys' tournament to win back-to-back singles title.
With a chance to become the first Virginia AAA boys' player to win the singles and doubles titles in the same year since 2000, James and partner junior Sean Duggan fell, 7-5, 7-5, to Randy Loden and Brian Calhoun of Mills Godwin in Saturday afternoon's semifinals. James and Duggan twice had a chance to extend the match to a third set but squandered the opportunities.
Trailing 6-5 in the second set, James and Duggan had two chances to break their Mills Godwin opponents and force a tiebreaker. On the first, coming after James hit a sharply angled backhand volley, Calhoun served an ace to take the game back to deuce. On the second break point, an unforced error did in Centreville.
"We got down in each set at 5-5, and weren't able to break back," James said. "They were doing different poaching formations that kept us guessing on our returns. It worked. I'm just happy we accomplished this, getting to the state semifinals. Not many teams get to say they did that."
The Northern Region's other doubles semifinalist team, Jefferson's Peden Nichols and William Palek, fell, 6-3, 6-0, to Tyler Early and Newton of Patrick Henry. Nichols and Palek were looking to become the school's first finalist since Aaron Stolpman won the singles and doubles titles in 1988.
Newton and Early defeated Loden and Calhoun, 7-5, 6-3, for the doubles title.