As Nathan La watched his sharply hit return dribble to a stop, the Churchill junior dropped his racket and released a thunderous “Yes!” followed by an equally powerful fist pump.

For La, the joyous exclamation was a nod to the obstacles he had faced during a topsy-turvy tournament that ended Saturday with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Blair freshman Andy Cui at Wilde Lake Tennis Club in Columbia.

In what proved to be the most riveting singles match of the day, La overcame an early first-set deficit and a cut left thumb to win the Maryland 4A title.

“This feels absolutely amazing, because I was literally down a set or multiple games in almost every match,” La said. “It really just goes to show that a tennis match isn’t over until it’s over.”

In a rematch of their regular season duel, which La also won, Cui came out aggressively, taking an early lead before La stormed back. From there the two exchanged moments during an exciting first set.

“I learned so much about myself out there today and throughout the tournament,” La said. “I faced so many incredible opponents this year and had a lot of tough matches that really made me work, but to be able to overcome it all and win is really special.”

While La took home the individual title, Cui and his teammates got to celebrate a team title as Blair edged Churchill by a point.

“I’m only a freshman, so the good thing for me is that I can train this offseason and then come back next year and hopefully get the title,” Cui said. “Even with the loss, this season was a lot of fun for me. I wasn’t able to get into the [school] building all year because of the pandemic, so tennis matches were my only opportunity to meet people.”

In the boys’ 3A final, River Hill sophomore Alex Artazov lost to Bel Air’s Vivekraj Harinarayan in a rematch of their USTA meeting that he won earlier this year.

“I feel like the whole season was a little too comfortable for me, and this was the first time I’d faced a tough opponent in a while,” Artazov said. “I didn’t have to try that hard until today, and he played every ball perfectly, and I just couldn’t match it.”

Jax Khademi and Nathaniel Winik of Bethesda-Chevy Chase beat Blair’s Jason An and Ryan He for the 4A doubles championship.

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