Lake Braddock wins its first Virginia boys’ tennis state title


Lake Braddock celebrates a successful day on the courts. (Kelyn Soong/The Washington Post)

The ball sailed between Lake Braddock’s Nick O’Connor and Scott Belcher, landing half a foot past the baseline as the large Bruins crowd erupted in cheers.

With the duo’s 1-6, 6-4, 6-1 win at No. 3 doubles over Langley’s Nick Smoyer and Stavros Kontzias, Lake Braddock clinched its first Virginia 6A boys’ tennis team title, beating the Saxons, 5-3, on a windy Saturday afternoon at Jefferson District Park in Falls Church.

Earlier in the day, the Oakton girls’ team fell short of capturing its first state title when it lost to Cox, 5-3.

“I had a perfect view of the shot,” Belcher said of the volley that was hit long on championship point. “I knew it was going out right away, and I was in a state of euphoria.”

The Bruins swept the top three singles flights, with senior Jacob Daugherty at No. 1, junior Alex Nesterovich at No. 2 and freshman Eric Yoo at No. 3 all winning in straight sets.

Langley was able to even the match as No. 4 Hammy Abuhamda, No. 5 Smoyer and No. 6 Will Pilkinton all won their singles flights. And with Nesterovich and Yoo’s victory at No. 2 doubles, the championship came down to the heroics of O’Connor and Belcher.

“I’m still getting over the roller-coaster ride,” Bruins Coach Bill Hughes said. “It’s never easy, and Langley isn’t a team that rolls over.”

The Saxons had eliminated Lake Braddock in the region tournament the past three seasons.

“It was so good to get revenge on them this year,” O’Connor said.

In the girls’ championship, Oakton senior Lizzie Stewart concluded her high school career by picking up victories at No. 1 singles and doubles to finish her last three seasons undefeated.

She swept Cox’s Olivia Large in a rematch of the Virginia 6A girls’ singles final, 6-0, 6-0, and teamed up with sophomore Lindsey Le to win No. 2 doubles, 6-0, 6-1.

Le earned the Cougars’ other victory with a 6-2, 6-1 win at No. 2 singles.

“This has been the greatest experience, playing in two state tournaments,” said Stewart, who helped Oakton reach the state semifinals last season. Teams that play Oakton “will know it’s not going to be an easy match.”

Stewart, a Cornell commit, played her first two seasons at St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes and finishes with a 127-2 overall record (80-2 in singles).

“I’ll definitely be back to cheer them on,” Stewart said.

In the 5A team finals, the Jefferson boys’ team beat Deep Run, 5-1, to win its second consecutive state title, while Mills Godwin topped Marshall, 5-1, in the girls’ championship.

E.C. Glass beat Loudoun County, 5-2, to claim the 4A boys’ team title, and Maggie Walker defeated George Mason in the 2A boys’ team final, 5-1.

Notes: In Friday’s Virginia 6A doubles championships, Daugherty and Long Huynh beat teammates Nesterovich and Yoo, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2, and Oakton’s Stewart and Le picked up another victory as both winning teams finished undefeated this season.

Sisters Kynadi Mauney and Carrington Mauney of George Mason won the 2A girls’ doubles title, with a win over Gate City’s siblings Rosa Smith and Emily Smith, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (8-6).

Kelyn Soong is a news aide and blogger and covers high school tennis for The Washington Post sports section.

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