For a moment last month, after a tough loss, Landon boys’ tennis Coach Adam Atwell thought his team was done. Instead, the Bears used the setback as motivation, reeling off three straight conference wins, then finishing the season Friday with an Interstate Athletic Conference tournament title victory over rival St. Albans, 6-1, on a breezy afternoon in Bethesda.
“The loss was a turning point for us,” said Landon senior Nicky Talwar, whose 6-2, 6-3 win at No. 4 singles clinched the tournament victory. “It was a huge mark for the team.”
Landon and St. Albans entered the tournament as IAC co-champions as both teams finished the season with a 4-1 conference record. The Bears have shared the league title the past four seasons.
Landon was seeded first and reached the tournament finals with a 5-2 win over Episcopal on Thursday. The Bulldogs, seeded second, were 4-3 winners over Georgetown Prep in the semifinals. Both teams received a first-round bye.
This marks a return to the single-elimination format the conference used several years ago. It was approved by IAC athletic directors prior to the season to make the postseason for all conference sports more uniform.
And even though this meant that two-time defending No. 1 singles champion Kasey Countee of Bullis did not get to defend his title because his team was eliminated in the first round, players at the tournament finals embraced the new emphasis on team play.
“I love it,” said Landon junior Gabriel Goldberg, a 6-2, 6-2 winner in No. 2 singles. “It’s much better. The team comes together better.”
The Bears punctuated their strong day with a win at No. 1 singles, where senior Alex Reinke scored a 6-1, 6-3 win over St. Albans’s Nick Bayh.
“I just wanted to finish strong and win my match here,” said Reinke, who has orally committed to play tennis at Southern Methodist University.
Landon swept the singles flights when Raman Ananthanpillai won at No. 3, 6-4, 6-1. The Bears also took two out of three doubles titles, as Sam Boley and Deacon Brew were 6-2, 6-3 winners at No. 2 and Josh Granader and Culver VanVleck won the third flight, 6-0, 6-1.
The St. Albans duo of Alex Soltany and Blake Bath prevented the sweep with a 6-3, 6-2 victory at No. 1 doubles.
The tournament “is about depth,” said Talwar, who plans on playing club tennis at the University of Maryland next year. “And our team is very, very deep.”
Severna Park won four titles at the Anne Arundel County tennis championships.
In singles play, the Falcons’ Alex Cauneac won the boys’ title and Beatrice Chaudoin upset last year’s winner, Jessica Zhao of Meade, in the girls’ championship. Jillian Garza and Amanda Brandeen won girls’ doubles and Ben Slay and Lauren Appel won mixed doubles to add to Severna Park's haul.
Broadneck's Noah Orders and Kelson Morawski won boys’ doubles to prevent the Falcons' sweep.