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Good Counsel tops Gonzaga to win first WCAC boys’ tennis title since 2001

The Good Counsel boys’ tennis team celebrate its first WCAC title since 2001. (Courtesy photo/Joey Cabigas)

For the better part of the past two decades, the Good Counsel boys’ tennis team has had to sit back and watch Gonzaga players celebrate one Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title after another. The defending champion Eagles, who had won seven of the last eight WCAC championships, have become a local high school tennis dynasty while separating themselves from the competition.

“Gonzaga was just that much better than we were,” Falcons Coach Lee Ingham said. “It was just a reminder to me that’s what we had to strive for.”

On Tuesday afternoon at Olney Manor Recreational Park, a motivated Good Counsel squad, undefeated (8-0) in conference play this season, finally toppled its rival and won all six singles flights and two of the three doubles finals to claim their first WCAC championship since 2001 in dominant fashion.

The Falcons, runner-up the past two years, finished with 51 points, followed by Gonzaga (27) and St. John’s (8).

“These guys have grown up together. They play well together,” said Ingham, who has coached the team since 2004. “It’s remarkable how positive these guys are.”

Good Counsel had reason to be confident. A few weeks earlier, the Falcons beat Gonzaga, 8-1, in the regular season for the first time in Ingham’s time with the team. The victory reverberated through the players. Not only had they kept their undefeated conference streak alive, but they had done so against the conference powerhouse.

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“In the years past, it was super hard. They were always our top competitor,” senior Jack Britschge said. “But we actually did it this year. We knew they were beatable after winning in the regular season.”

Good Counsel clinched the tournament title Tuesday before doubles play even began, sweeping all six singles flights. Britschge’s 8-4 victory over Gonzaga junior Mike Smolskis at No. 4 singles put the team’s point total out of reach.

At the top-flight singles, junior Thomas Kallarakal beat Bishop McNamara senior Phillip “PJ” Smith, 8-4; senior Tristan Steffe defeated Gonzaga junior Jake Winters, 8-6 at No. 2; junior Brandon Riddle blanked Gonzaga junior Andy Borman, 8-0, at No. 3; senior Grant Gebhardt upset Gonzaga senior Danny Lavarte, 8-3, at No. 5; and freshman Lucas Le defeated Gonzaga senior Tim Saunders, 8-3, at No. 6.

In the doubles competition, Kallarakal and Steffe defeated Gonzaga’s Borman and sophomore Wyatt Moll, 8-5, at No. 1, while Britschge and Riddle teamed up to take down the Eagles duo of Winters and Smolskis, 8-3, at No. 2.

Saunders and senior Gordon Turner of Gonzaga prevented the complete Falcons sweep with an 8-4 win over Gebhardt and sophomore Max Nguyen at No. 3 doubles.

The victory “didn’t sink in until after we got our trophies,” Britschge said.

The Good Counsel girls’ tennis team claimed the WCAC championship in the fall.

Before the tournament began, Ingham brought her players to the school gym where all the Good Counsel titles are displayed. Under boys’ tennis, there was only one year: 2001. The Falcons made sure it didn’t stay that way for much longer.

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