GLEN ALLEN, Va. — As Chantilly junior Will Pak and Marshall junior Reilly Tran worked their way through the first sets of their respective Virginia Class 6 championship tennis matches Thursday, they each stole the occasional glance sideways to confirm that the other also was en route to a title.
Pak and Tran, two of the best high school players in the state, train together and have been good friends for some time. Both entered Thursday’s singles championships undefeated, and both made quick work of their final opponents.
“It’s definitely something special to win at the same time as her,” Pak said. “It’s something we’ll remember forever in our tennis career.”
After the matches, they talked and laughed together as teenagers do, except they each had a state champion medal in hand.
“We’ve grown up together,” Tran said. “It was neat getting to play next to him. Guys and girls are always separated, so it was definitely special today.”
Tran defeated Landstown’s Chelsea Samuels, 6-0, 6-0. After a strong freshman year, the North Carolina commit missed all of her sophomore season because of hip surgery.
“I felt like a freshman, [coming off injury]. It was a new team, kind of,” Tran said. “But I had to prove to myself, more than others, that I deserved to be here.”
She returned with style this spring and didn’t drop a set on her way to Thursday’s dominant performance. With a strong, two-handed forehand, Tran overpowered her freshman opponent from the start and raced to a victory.
“I was just trying to hang in this heat,” Tran said. “I used warmups to see how she played. She had a longer match this morning, and I used that to my advantage.”
Tran had defeated Robinson’s Paige La in the semifinal Thursday morning, 6-1, 6-0.
Pak, the defending champion at Class 6 singles, also got off to a fast start against First Colonial’s Evan Pugh, dancing around the baseline and pounding deep winners. He won the first set, 6-0.
At 1-0 in the second set, Pugh, who had played a grueling semifinal match earlier Thursday, went down with debilitating cramps. He later retired from the match, giving Pak back-to-back titles.
“I was feeling really good today. Felt very loose, very relaxed,” Pak said. “Certainly more than last year. When I was here last year, I felt a little more pressure.”
Pak, who is committed to the Naval Academy, said he focused on improving his fitness this past offseason. He defeated Lake Braddock’s Dustin Ha in Thursday’s semifinal, 6-1, 6-1, and looked fresh throughout the afternoon’s championship match.
Both he and Tran have a long weekend ahead: They will compete for doubles titles Friday and team championships Saturday.
In the Class 5 boys’ singles final, Rock Ridge’s Momin Khan defeated Mills Godwin’s Rishi Charan Shankar, 6-1, 6-3. On the girls’ side, Broad Run’s Kirsten Husted fell to Maury’s Mya Byrd, 6-3, 6-3.