Tennis looks to finish their season with strong playoffs

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Sophomore Alessandro Vallefuoco has been one of the young players to help lead the tennis team to success this season.

The playoffs are in full swing for WJ boys’ tennis and they have had many successes so far. At this point, the county tournament has concluded, with Wootton emerging as the county champion.

Freshman Joseph Toukabri made it to the semifinals of the county tournament, which is also known as the MCPS boys tennis tourney. He made it to the semifinals because his round of 16 and quarterfinal opponents both defaulted, which allowed Joseph to advance without playing a match. He lost that semifinals match with a scores of 6-1 and 6-0 for his two sets.

Toukabri also played exceptionally well throughout the season as he achieved a 7-3 record. He credits his success to his teammates, explaining that boys’ tennis has a great team this year. Also, he has not faced many hardships this season, but the one challenge he did encounter was finding time to practice in poor weather conditions.

“There weren’t really any challenges, except weather,” Toukabri said. “To overcome them, I practiced outside of school.”

Additionally, in the singles tournament, senior Ethan Kowalski played at #1 singles spot, freshman captain Alejandro Colmenares played at 2 singles, and freshman Gabe Kritz at 3 singles;all lost in the quarterfinals of the county tournament

Three of the four singles players were freshmen, which Colmenares identifies as a reason some of the singles players struggled.

“This lack of experience affected some of our players in this stage,” Colmenares said.

Like the singles players, the doubles teams did not get eliminated until the quarter finals of the tournament. Senior Declan Elie and junior Liam Pratt played at the #1 doubles spot, freshman Malhaar Nair and sophomore Alessandro Vallefuoco played at 2 doubles, and juniors Eric Whitescarver and Ian Greenwood at 3 doubles.

Coach Mitchell Duque explains that it is very important to consider that once players make it to the quarterfinals, there is a large chance that they will compete against an opponent they previously faced during the regular season.

“Therefore they need to figure out a way to improve on their earlier performance,” Duque said. “We usually talk about how they will go about that in the days leading up to the tournament.”

Despite the challenges players have faced throughout the regular season and the playoffs, they have managed to maintain their drive and will to win.

“I believe that what allowed us to play well throughout the season was the will to recover the spot in [division 1],” Colmenares said.

Now this week, many players have begun competing in the regional tournament. On May 14, Elie and Pratt lost to the Wootton team they were playing against in straight sets in the round of 16 in boys doubles and Kritz and Toukabri lost to Blair in 3 sets in the round of 16 as well. Colmenares and Stacy Ternovskaia were supposed to play Quince Orchard on Monday, but QO defaulted, so WJ advanced.

In mixed doubles, Colmenares and Ternovskaia took advantage of the default, and were able to pull off an upset to beat the #2 seeded team from Richard Montgomery in straight sets in the quarterfinals. Then, they went on to lose in the semifinals to #3 seeded Wootton in a 3 hour, 3 set match that was very close. WJ ended up losing 15-13 in the 3rd set tiebreaker.

Also, The #1 seeded mixed doubles team of Kowalski and sophomore Lea Kosanovic, won their quarterfinal match over Wootton in straight sets. Their next 2 opponents defaulted in both the semifinals and finals. Due to this, Kowalski and Kosanovic are regional champions and earned the #1 seed in the state tournament that begins today, May 25.

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