Late in the second set of the girls’ Maryland state singles final, Wootton’s Miranda Deng started getting nervous, with Sherwood’s Lea Owens fighting to even the set at four games apiece.
But Deng knew what to do. Staying aggressive, she turned to her forehand to get the next two games and a 6-0, 6-3 win at Olney Manor Recreational Park, claiming her third consecutive state title.
“I told myself I just have to keep hitting; that’s how I win,” said the junior, who entered having split her two previous meetings this season with Owens. “I have to play my own game and not freak out.”
In the boys’ singles final, sophomore Joseph Brailovsky battled to snag another victory for Wootton, with a 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 result against Severna Park’s Austin Yannone.
“I sacrificed a lot to enter into the tournament,” said Brailovsky, who not long ago was unsure whether he would compete in states at all. “There was some confusion with my coach and I, but it all worked out in the end.”
Brailovsky, who was out for most of the regular season with a back injury, cruised through the first three rounds, dropping his only game of the tournament in a semifinal match against Urbana’s Sam Safdari. Still, he knew his training buddy, Yannone, from the College Park Tennis Center, would be no walkover.
After dropping the second set, Brailovsky found himself down 5-2 in the third before a furious comeback. Yannone had two chances to push for a third-set tiebreaker, but Brailovsky used a lofty first serve to hold on.
“At the beginning of the season, I wanted to win states,” said Yannone, who will attend Quinnipiac University. “I know there’s a lot of great players out there and I just did my best to get here. Joe played a great match, well fought.”
Wootton fell just shy of going home with three titles, after losing to Walter Johnson in the mixed doubles final. The duo of Ethan Kowalski and Jessica Fatemi beat Wootton’s Jake Gordon and Ruchi Nanda, who had entered the tournament unseeded.
Carina Greenberg and Sarinah Wall of Whitman, meanwhile, breezed their way to a 6-2, 6-1 win in women’s doubles over Liberty’s Elle Shatto and Abby Brecker, who hadn’t lost a match together all season.
Jack Welch and Andrew Leung took home Whitman’s second title of the tournament with a routine 6-2, 6-1 win over Bennett Yang and Austin Yang of Churchill in the boys’ doubles final and wrap up another strong performance from Montgomery County. Welch and Leung had lost in three sets in the final last year.
“It feels great to win this year . . . to redeem ourselves,” said Welch, normally the Vikings’ No. 2 singles player. “We’re going to see how the team works out next season, and maybe we’ll have a chance to defend the title.”