As if Northwest’s Lydia Xiao didn’t have enough pressure playing for the Montgomery County No. 1 singles title on Thursday, the senior tennis player found herself battling another tough opponent late in the match — fatigue.
Xiao’s semifinal contest had been halted the day before due to darkness, leaving her to finish the final two games of the match Thursday before taking part in what would be a grueling championship battle with Bethesda-Chevy Chase’s Anna Rozenberg at Blake.
“I was already pretty tired from the whole week, so by playing those extra games today, I was definitely feeling it toward the end,” Xiao said. “I just had to keep reminding myself that I’m right there and this was my moment.”
Ultimately, mind prevailed over matter, as Xiao held off Rozenberg, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, to become her school’s first No. 1 singles champion.
Thursday marked the second season in a row that Xiao and Rozenberg squared off in the playoffs, with Rozenberg prevailing in last year’s semifinal. Between that and the fact that both girls train under the same amateur coach, Xiao admittedly entered the championship match with a few doubts.
But the lefty stole the momentum early, using several cross-court shots to keep Rozenberg off balance during a first-set victory. Rozenberg showed resolve by winning the second set and closing a three-game deficit to one in the third set. Yet it wasn’t enough to overcome Xiao’s consistent play.
In doubles play, Churchill earned critical win at the No. 3 spot, as Joan Albrecht and Alexandra Boukhvalova defeated Wootton’s Kylie Yassin and Sophie Wunderlich, 7-5, 6-1.
“Both Joan and Alexandra showed their senior experience by coming through in what was a key match for us,” Churchill Coach Ben Woods said. “It’s not easy to win six titles in a row, but these girls work and are committed to that goal and it shows.”
In No. 2 singles, Sherwood’s Lea Owen beat Alexis Salcedo of B-CC, 6-0, 6-4 while Walter Johnson’s Nicole Fatemi downed Wootton’s Katherine Kim in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2. In No. 4 singles, Kasey Yamashita picked up another point for Walter Johnston by beating Churchill’s Lauren Perrine, 6-2, 7-4.
The remaining doubles play saw Wootton’s Katrina Sherman and Karrie Shi beat Churchill’s Alissa Li and Megan Le, 6-3, 6-4 in the No. 1 slot while Cherrie Wang and Shelby McGinty of Wootton held off Churchill’s Sydney Shugarman and Emily Hillman, 4-7, 6-4, 6-0.
Holton-Arms tied a league record with 43 tournament points to win its fourth consecutive Independent School League tournament championship Wednesday at Episcopal.
All seven of the Panthers’ tournament entrants advanced to the championship match of their individual flight, and three won their final match Wednesday to extend the team’s lead that was already insurmountable heading into the last day of the tournament.
Stone Ridge, paced by No. 2 singles champion Mia Gancayco, finished second with 26 team points.
“We spent quite a bit of time this season making sure the girls got along and knew what team tennis is about,” Holton-Arms Coach Yann Auzoux said. “We have a disciplined program and the girls know what the expectation is, which is to always do their best to win.”
Bullis sophomore Ines Vias won the league’s individual championship with a win over Holton-Arms’s Lilly Lynham in the No. 1 singles final, while Gancayco beat Holton senior Katherine Britton at No. 2.
Holton-Arms’s individual champions were sophomore Arianna Spirtos at No. 3 singles, senior Angelina DiPaolo at No. 4 singles and senior Gabriella Chen and sophomore Karsyn Lawler at No. 1 doubles.