The Sidwell Friends boys’ tennis team came into the season with four somewhat lofty goals: to go undefeated in the regular season, to avenge last year’s loss to Baltimore powerhouse Gilman, to repeat as champions of the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference and to win the D.C. state title.
On Saturday afternoon in Northwest Washington, the Quakers completed the third of those four tasks, beating the Potomac School, 5-2, for their second consecutive MAC championship.
“We knew we were bringing back a lot of good players this year, so we set high expectations,” senior co-captain Dean Mazlish said.
Sidwell entered the match at 19-0 a week after finishing a perfect regular season with a 5-4 nonconference win over Gilman. The Greyhounds were one of two programs to beat the Quakers last year, and the team had circled the rematch on the calendar.
To beat Gilman, Sidwell needed to flex its depth. As the home team, Gilman opted to play its usual meet format of five singles and four doubles matches, a change from the MAC’s structure of four singles and three doubles. The Quakers shuffled their lineup and squeaked out a victory. Sidwell Coach Logan West and his players believed that victory could catapult the team to a strong postseason.
“When we played Gilman, we realized how good we really were, up and down the lineup, because everyone was tested that match,” senior co-captain Will Faulks said.
The team’s depth was also on display Saturday as two early doubles victories set the tone. After sophomore Akira Morgenstern, Sidwell’s No. 1 singles player, had to retire from his match with an injury, wins at first and second doubles handed Sidwell an early lead. Although the team’s singles players are young — three sophomores and a freshman — their doubles teams feature three juniors and three seniors.
“Our one, two and three doubles have been winning a lot of matches, and that takes a lot of pressure off [the singles players],” sophomore Michael Zhang said. “We play a lot more freely because we essentially have to win one out of four” singles matches.
Zhang played second singles and won his match, 7-5, 6-0, despite trailing 5-3 in the first set. Freshman Teli Bezianis won third singles, 6-1, 6-4, and sophomore Winston Matthews won, 6-1, 6-1, at fourth singles.
Faulks won at No. 1 doubles with senior Nico Pastor, 6-2, 6-0. Mazlish and junior Erik Barker won their match, 6-4, 6-3. Potomac School earned its wins from No. 1 singles player Braeden Meikle (6-2, 3-0) and third doubles team Enrico Cecchi and Ethan Lee (6-3, 1-6, 10-2 tiebreaker).
Now Sidwell turns its attention to next week’s DCSAA tournament — and its chance to check off the final item on its list of goals.
“I told them to soak up this moment, enjoy it today, celebrate,” West said. “But starting tomorrow we have unfinished business.”