Varsity Tennis Delivers Again in 10-3 Victory Against Houston Memorial, Vaulting to State Finals

By Catharine Li, Assistant A&E Editor

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  • Erupting in celebration after an aggressive volley shot, Aashish Dhanani ’22 wins the point with partner Jessica Lu ’21 in mixed doubles. They’d go on to secure a commanding victory of 6-1, 6-3.

    Photo By Catharine Li

  • Advancing inwards on the ball, Jessica Lu ’21 maneuvers her racket face in preparation to hit a short trajectory backhand slice shot, effectively changing the rhythm of her match. After losing the first set of her singles match 3-6, Lu fought her way back up, winning the second set 6-1 despite not being able to complete the match before the overall team victory was reached.

    Photo By Catharine Li

  • Completing a follow through on a sweeping cross-court backhand shot, Marko Mesarovic ’23 eyes the ball in anticipation before moving his way up the court to take control of the point. Mesarovic and his partner Aadhi Raja ’23 would work together to land a 6-3, 6-3 win for line two boys’ doubles.

    Photo By Catharine Li

  • Lunging across the net, Rishika Vemulapalli ’22 extends forward to put away the volley shot. Partnering with Alex Mepham ’24, the duo fought hard against their opponents, but ultimately lost 5-7, 1-6.

    Photo By Catharine Li

  • Turning to face each other in joy, Zeyad Elchouemi ’22 and Sachchit Sivaram ’21 break out in excitement over an impressive display of teamwork that would widen the lead over their opponents. Working together as partners since 2018, Elchouemi and Sivaram have learned to find a rhythm in their collective styles of play. “We’ve built our chemistry so much. We know our every move and whenever we go down, we know how to pick each other up,” Sivaram said.

    Photo By Catharine Li

  • Hands raised high, head coach Travis Dalrymple and assistant coach Daniel Veve lead the varsity tennis team in a pre-match chant before taking on Houston Memorial in the 6A Team Tennis State Semi-Finals. In a high-stakes duel between the top two seeds in the state, Westwood would emerge victorious 10-3.

    Photo By Catharine Li

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Under the fleeting clouds and blue skies of Texas A&M University, a final leaping stride across maroon tinted courts sent the varsity tennis team into a frenzy of celebration as they battled past defending champions Houston Memorial in an excitement-filled state semi-final matchup on Saturday, Nov. 14. 

Point by point tension created by mutual strokes of genius saw their mark of approval as spectators, brought to their feet, gushed out in support. Crisscrossing en route to hunt down balls, players glided with each recovery in a glittering exhibition of on-court savviness, competitive drive, and fitness. The partnership created between Sachchit Sivaram ‘21 and Zeyad Elchouemi ‘22 in boys’ doubles would put down their opponents 6-1, 6-3, creating an unparalleled energy as they unleashed statement fist-clenched roars of jubilation that before long, would usher in a cacophony of “Sko Wood” cries. 

“Everyone’s been here from the bottom to the top and helped each other, and to see that work here today has been amazing. We’ve built a community and every time we get loud, it just rings through everybody,” Sivaram said. 

Distinctly adept at reshaping presumed vulnerability into calculated attack, Kiana Graham ‘23 and Dana Kardonik ‘24 were wondrously resurgent after losing the first set 4-6, climbing upwards from a 1-5 deficit in the second set to delivering an astounding comeback when strained to opposing corners of the court. Ultimately, the duo would similarly drop the last set 4-6, but it was clear that the stage was set for an afternoon of tennis to flourish under the lights of defying collective limits. In other girls’ doubles bouts, Gina Mepham ‘23 and Simryn Jacob ‘24 would win 6-4, 6-3.

“We had a slow start in the beginning because we were down,” Mepham said. “[To stay strong mentally I], try to forget about that last game. It’s a new start and you can change everything just by this point right here.”  

Entrancing exchanges adorned with aggressive volley smack-downs provided little time to observe the spiralling path of a ball in flight. Feathery yet sneaky footwork from Jessica Lu ‘21 and Aashish Dhanani ‘22 would inch the team one step closer in victory, 6-1, 6-3. A 5-2 lead following doubles matchplay would launch the team into the next high-level duel to come in singles, as they hung onto every point waged in line to their championship aspirations. 

“It was awesome. We have not had a lot of close matches this year, and when it got close, these kids stepped up,” head coach Travis Dalrymple said. 

Averting the intermittent burst of frustration when things went awry would amount to the capability of directing such fervent momentum away from technical execution. Emblematic of a continuous, laborious emotional banter to combat the inner heckler from lashing out with its composure consuming qualities, the players did not veer, appearing triumphant over jittering nerves. In a mesmerizing clash, Nicolas Pesoli ‘21 would gain the upper hand quickly with a 6-1 win in the first set, dropping the second set 2-6, and finally fighting tooth and nail to emerge triumphant in tiebreak 10-6. Aadhi Raja ‘23 and Sivaram would both land 6-1, 6-1 wins. 

“We work hard, fight hard, and it’s just nice to see it really pay off and see everyone accept the culture of the program,” Coach Dalrymple said.  

The varsity team is headed to the UIL 6A Team Tennis State Finals on Tuesday, Nov. 17 where they will battle Plano West High School in the last leg of their journey.