The Gonzaga boys’ tennis team carried its Washington Catholic Athletic Conference trophy down a tree-lined path and onto the nearest empty tennis court.
It’s a prize that often belongs to them. From 2010 to 2017, the Eagles won seven of eight conference titles. But last season Good Counsel ran the league and earned its first championship since 2001.
Now that Gonzaga had taken back the trophy at Saturday’s boys’ conference championships at Rock Creek Tennis Center in Northwest Washington, it was time for some pictures.
“I knew this was a good team but everyone’s gotten so much better from the beginning of the year until now,” senior captain Andy Borman said. “We felt like we didn’t send the seniors off right last year . . . This year we wanted to show the young guys how to win and what it means to play Gonzaga tennis.”
Gonzaga had a strong final day of play, finishing with 40 points. Good Counsel finished in second with 32 points, followed by Bishop O’Connell with 14.
The Eagles entered Saturday, the third and final day of the tournament, with their work cut out for them. They had representatives in eight of the nine championship matches and a two-point lead over Good Counsel, which had seven finalists.
It took less than an hour for the Eagles to clinch the title, having won four of the six singles finals. Junior Wyatt Moll’s 8-5 victory over Good Counsel’s Thomas Riddle at the No. 2 slot secured the Eagles’ victory. As Moll finished his match, a horde of teammates cheered him on from just beyond the fence.
“The main thing [in the WCAC tournament] is getting over your nerves,” Moll said. “Having a strong team behind you, that you can hear on the court, gets rid of your nerves.”
Good Counsel senior Thomas Kallarakal took home the No. 1 singles title, joining O’Connell’s Michael Carchia as the only players not from Gonzaga to capture a singles crown. Both Kallarakal and Carchia finished the season undefeated.
“There was a little bit of pressure to finish perfectly but I had confidence in my game,” said Kallarakal, who did not lose a singles match for his final three years of high school. “I had been training for so long, I knew I was the person to beat.”
Kallarakal and Riddle later won a title together at No. 1 doubles. Borman and Eagle teammate Mike Smolskis won at No. 2 and Good Counsel pair Max Nguyen and Kyle Knolmayer took home the No. 3 doubles championship. In singles, Borman, Smolskis, Moll and freshman Carson Foley won for Gonzaga.
“From day one, everybody was motivated,” Gonzaga Coach Randy De Guzman said. “Everybody wanted this. Even in tryouts, they were focused, getting ready to start the season. That’s what last year did to them.”