For several years, Wootton junior Joseph Brailovsky had tried and failed to figure out a way to beat the hard-hitting Jake Fishkin, a nationally ranked player from the Baltimore area. The two have met five times in U.S. Tennis Association tournament matches since 2011 and Fishkin was the winner each time.
But none of that mattered to Brailovsky when he faced Fishkin, a junior playing his first season for Baltimore County’s Pikesville High, in Saturday afternoon’s Maryland state boys’ tennis singles final at Wilde Lake Tennis Club in Columbia.
Brailovsky, the top seed in the tournament, neutralized No. 2 seed Fishkin’s powerful groundstrokes with his defense and was able to employ an aggressive strategy of his own to win the match, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), and successfully defend his state title.
“It’s all about the mind-set,” Brailovsky said. “You can’t go into the match off prejudice that he won. I’ve played him so many times. I know what he’s going to do. I know his game style. He knows mine. I just switched it up. I was more aggressive throughout the match and that worked.”
Up 3-0 in the second set, Brailovsky started to lose focus and allowed Fishkin to hit him off the court. Fishkin eventually took a 5-4 lead and held a 30-15 advantage on Brailovsky’s serve when the strings of Fishkin’s racket — his second — broke.
Fishkin was assessed two point penalties for delay of game as he waited to borrow another player’s racket. That allowed Brailovsky to regroup and he would go on to the win that game and eventually the match, which lasted nearly 2½ hours in overcast conditions.
“I think I just stayed strong in moments that Jake could’ve easily turned the match around,” Brailovsky said.
Earlier in the day, Wheaton sophomore Ayana Akli took down three-time defending champion Miranda Deng of Wootton, 6-2, 6-0, to win the Knights’ first state title in girls’ singles.
With the victory, Akli also finished the season undefeated, including three wins over Deng, a senior who was aiming to become the first player since Springbrook’s Jeri Ingram (1985-’88) to win four Maryland state singles championships.
“It’s really special, because Wheaton has not won a lot of stuff,” Akli said, “so I’m just really happy I got to represent them and win for them.”
In the boys’ doubles final, Churchill junior William Karpinski and senior Michael Chen defeated the defending champions, Whitman senior Jack Welch and junior Andrew Leung, 6-3, 6-3.
Marriotts Ridge’s duo of senior Abby Thornton and sophomore Veronica Cueller beat Whitman’s defending champions, senior Carina Greenberg and junior Sarinah Wahl, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), to win the girls’ doubles final.
Walter Johnson senior Anna Radzeviciute and junior Ethan Kowalski defeated Mount Hebron senior Tess Weber and sophomore Michael Kimack, 6-1, 6-1, in mixed doubles to complete another successful state tournament for Montgomery County players.