The Winston Churchill High School girls tennis team walked away with a single gold medal during the Montgomery County championship meet, but through contributions up and down the lineup during the tournament, the Bulldogs also returned home with the team championship plaque.
The No. 3 doubles team of Joan Albrecht and Alexandra Boukhvalova was Churchill's lone winner on Thursday at James H. Blake. The pair's 7-5, 6-1 victory against Thomas S. Wootton's Kylie Yassin and Sophie Wunderlich allowed the Bulldogs to edge the Patriots, 18-17, for what Churchill coach Ben Woods believes is the program's sixth straight county crown and ninth in the past 10 years.
“Joan and Alex are both seniors and they've been role players,” Woods said. “They scratched their way into the lineup [and] they fought hard. They'll be so proud to know they got the point that won the county tournament. It was huge for us. Everybody produced a point on our team.”
The Patriots certainly made things interesting, winning Nos. 1 and 2 doubles against Churchill to close the gap to a point, but Wootton's other finalist, Katherine Kim, was upset at No. 3 singles by Walter Johnson's Nicole Fatemi by a score of 6-1, 6-2.
In the battle for top individual honors, Northwest's Lydia Xiao scored a 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, victory against top-seeded Anna Rozenberg of Bethesda-Chevy Chase at No. 1 singles. It was the first of what could be three meetings between the two with the regional meet starting Friday and May's state tournament.
Xiao used pinpoint groundstrokes to take the first set. Rozenberg turned things around with some solid play in the second set, but Xiao established a 3-0 lead in the third set and was then able to hold off Rozenberg for the victory.
“She picked up her game [so] I just had to refocus,” Xiao said. “I thought there's a third set and I knew I could take her. It's really important because she was a first seed and I was a second so she was definitely expected to win and I was ready to make the upset. Hopefully, I can do well in regionals too.”
Speaking of upsets, Sherwood freshman Lea Owen scored a pair of them against Walt Whitman's Anna Volkov and Walter Johnson's Arielle Hartz to reach the No. 2 singles final where she scored a 6-0, 6-4 victory against Bethesda-Chevy Chase's Alexis Salcedo, who was unseeded entering the tournament. Salcedo started quick in the second set, winning four of the first five games, but Owen regrouped and rallied past her.
“She just got her balls in and we had longer points,” Owen said of Salcedo's hot start. “I just hit more winners [during her rally]. I thought I'd get far, but not to the finals.”
Owen was the third seed, but she had been handled by Volkov and Hartz during regular season play, Sherwood coach Tom Maley said.
“She was beaten decisively by the Walter Johnson girl 10 days ago,” Maley said. “It was something like [6-]3, [6-]2. It was 6-1, 6-1 [in the rematch]. Then she goes on a [6-0] lead on this one. I was very impressed.”
Montgomery County Girls Tennis Championships
No. 1: Lydia Xiao (Northwest) d. Anna Rozenberg (Bethesda-Chevy Chase), 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.
No. 2: Lea Owen (Sherwood) d. Alexis Salcedo (Bethesda-Chevy Chase), 6-0, 6-4.
No. 3: Nicole Fatemi (Walter Johnson) d. Katherine Kim (Thomas S. Wootton), 6-1, 6-2.
No. 4: Kasey Yamashita (Walter Johnson) d. Lauren Perrine (Winston Churchill), 6-2, 7-5.
No. 1: Katarina Sherman-Karrie Shi (Thomas S. Wootton) d. Alissa Li-Megan Le (Winston Churchill), 6-3, 6-4.
No. 2: Cherrie Wang-Shelby McGinty (Thomas S. Wootton) d. Sydney Shugarman-Emily Hillman (Winston Churchill), 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 6-0.
No. 3: Joan Albrecht-Alexandra Boukhvalova (Winston Churchill) d. Kylie Yassin-Sophie Wunderlich (Thomas S. Wootton), 7-5, 6-1.
1. Churchill 18; 2. Thomas S. Wootton 17; 3. Walter Johnson 15; 4(tie). Walt Whitman, Bethesda-Chevy Chase 10.