Nothing seemed to faze the McLean boys’ tennis team Saturday in the Virginia 6A team final against Oakton. Not the rowdy crowds nor contentious matches, and certainly not the fact that the Highlanders found themselves down 4-2 against a tough Cougars squad heading into the doubles portion of the championships.
For several McLean players, this year’s goal was perfection, and they were confident in their dominant doubles teams.
“We were kind of states or bust,” senior Andrew Donelson said of the team’s mind-set.
After more than five hours of play under the hot sun at George Mason University in Fairfax, the undefeated Highlanders completed their mission, rallying to beat Oakton, 5-4, and claim their first boys’ tennis team state title.
The clinching match came down to freshman Matthew Tran and sophomore Ben Keyser at No. 1 doubles. After a long rally on match point, Tran hit a forehand volley winner to send his teammates standing near the fence lining the court into delirium.
“This season we’ve been clinching so much after singles, we haven’t been able to showcase how good our doubles are,” said Keyser, who was the state singles runner-up and doubles champion with Tran. “When it came to it, I was confident we were going to do really well.”
McLean also won No. 2 doubles (Donelson and senior Jing Waid) in what was an occasionally heated match that included a disputed point, and No. 3 doubles (senior Jason Wang and junior Andrew Lacaden) to complete the doubles sweep.
But it was mostly the Cougars in the beginning, with singles victories at No. 5 (senior Avery Vogelzang), No. 3 (freshman Tyler Hyun), No. 6 (senior Avery Olsen) and No. 4 (junior Nick Nguyen).
The Highlanders got back in it with a win from Tran at second-flight singles and Keyser held off Oakton sophomore Matthew O’Connor, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, at No. 1 singles to keep McLean’s hopes alive.
Several hours after McLean’s victory, the Oakton girls held off a furious rally from W.T. Woodson to win their second state title in three years, earning a 5-3 victory.
Unbeaten Oakton clinched the match with a three-set win from senior Kaitlyn Hyun and junior Anna Klinker at No. 2 doubles.
“It’s always our goal to win states,” Klinker said. “[This title] shows we’re a force to be reckoned with.”
Oakton won four of six singles matches at No. 2 (junior Victoria Thai), No. 3 (Klinker), No. 4 (Hyun) and No. 6 (senior Jackie Zhu) to enter doubles up 4-2.
In the 5A team finals in Newport News, the Marshall girls defeated Deep Run, 5-3, for their first state team title, while Jefferson topped Stone Bridge, 5-2, on the boys’ side.
The Statesmen earned a pivotal victory at No. 1 singles from freshman Reilly Tran, who handed four-time state singles champion Nina Sorkin her only high school singles loss, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.
Statesmen seniors Nattie Koludrovic and Priya Trehan clinched the title at second-flight doubles.
“This was the highlight of my high school career,” Trehan said. “I just feel so proud to be part of the school.”
Rock Ridge beat John Handley, 5-3, in the 4A boys’ final to pick up the third-year school’s first state title in any sport.