Varsity Tennis Trounces McNeil 10-0 in District Semifinal

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  • Kiana Graham ’20 eagerly watches her fellow teammate’s match before her own starts.

  • Mihika Birmiwal ’20 gets into position before her doubles match starts.

  • Daniel Antov ’21 participates in a doubles match.

  • Zeyad Elchouemi ’22 prepares to strike the incoming ball.

  • Daniel Antov ’21 and Ishan Dhanani ’19 quickly discuss their strategy before their match begins.

  • Jessica Lu ’21 gets into position to return an upcoming serve.

  • Ishan Dhanani ’19 prepares to play a singles match.

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On Friday, Oct. 5, the varsity tennis squad took to their home court to take on the McNeil Mavericks in the District Semifinal. The Warriors emerged with a decisive victory, winning all 10 matches without taking a single loss.

The team as a whole seemed composed and prepared to take on the Mavs even before the matches began. The strategy was clearly to play very offensively, eliminating any hopes for McNeil to gain any sort of advantage.

“I feel like [this match] should be pretty easy,” Siddhant Pandit ‘21 said before he started. “We should just rush the net and play very aggressively. The next match is Vandegrift, which should be pretty tough, so I think I’ll play safer there.”

The action began with the doubles matches. The Warriors quickly gained an early lead, and never looked back. In boys’ doubles, Gaurav Singh ‘20 and Varun Somarouthu ‘20 handily beat their McNeil counterparts in two sets, winning 6-0, 6-0 in a blowout match that lasted only 30 minutes.

“I think our match went pretty well, and we stepped on the court ready to play,” Singh said. “Varun and I knew we had a really good chance of winning this match, and we just did what [Coach Dalrymple] said and took care of business.”

The girls’ doubles teams found similar success in their matches as well. Kiana Graham ‘20, the reigning state champion, and Mihika Birmiwal ‘20, easily won in 2 sets, beating the Mavs 6-0, 6-0. Graham’s work at the back of the court combined with Birmiwal’s effort at the net cemented the victory. Sofie Kardonik ‘19 and Michelle Duan ‘19 played with similar class, winning their match 6-0, 6-1.

“I think I did a good job closing the net, but I think I could have been a little more aggressive,” Graham said. “Other than that [our match] was pretty good.”

The play then commenced with boys’ and girls’ singles, which were a triumph for the Warriors as well. Daniel Xiong ‘21 controlled the entire court in his match, shutting out his opponent 6-0, 6-0. Kinjal Khatri ‘20 also added a point for the Warriors, emerging from her match with a 6-1, 6-4 victory.

“The matches today went very well,” Coach Travis Dalrymple said. “The kids came out and took care of business like we knew they could. McNeil has some good players, and we definitely had a good match with them.”

The team also took the opportunity to look beyond the contest at hand to the season looming ahead. The Warriors have high goals for the rest of the fall and the spring, with some athletes hoping to develop their team’s reputation as a state contender.

“Obviously I want us to get to state as a team, because that hasn’t happened in a while, so I’m hoping for that,” Graham said. “I think this is the year. We’re playing really well and we’re [rank] three in state right now.”

With this win, the Warriors will move on to the District Final against Vandegrift, which will most certainly be one of the biggest tests of the season.

“We’re ready for Vandegrift next week. It’s gonna be a battle for the district title, and they went to state last year, so I know they’re gonna bring it,” Coach Dalrymple said. “We’re ready. We’ll see how ready, but we are ready.”

The varsity tennis team will return to play the Vandegrift Vipers next Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. on their home courts for the district title.