Tough Bulldogs go unbeaten again

IAC champs win Ben Johns tournament for second straight season

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Bullis boys tennis team capped off its second consecutive undefeated season with its second straight Ben Johns tournament title Friday at Episcopal High in Alexandria, Va. Episcopal finished second and Landon rounded out the top three.

The Bulldogs separated themselves from the rest of the field — which featured private-school teams from the Washington Metropolitan area — during Friday’s final round by winning six of the seven courts. And performing well on big occasions has been one of Bullis’ strengths throughout the season.

‘‘In the early part of the season, we knew we had a very good team and that we’d win a lot of matches,” Bullis coach Jack Schore said. ‘‘But I thought of our Flint Hill, Churchill, Gilman [matches], and I pointed out to the team that they’d have to get up for those tough matches. In all the tough matches, they played as well as they had all season. They did a real good job all year. It is one thing to know what you have to do, it is another thing to just do it. I thought they just really played well all season. They never got sloppy.”

Despite being a young squad in 2005, the Bulldogs were unbeatable, finishing the season 13-0. This year, during which they went 15-0, they’ve matured and improved even more. Junior Will Beck, who lost in the finals of last year’s Ben Johns tournament, stormed through the No. 1 singles bracket. Backed by the power generated by his 6-foot-3 frame as well as impeccable agility and finesse, he clinched the No. 1 singles title with a convincing 6-1, 6-2 win over Episcopal’s David Hannon. Bullis’ No. 2 singles player Andrew Zutz, forced to withdraw from last year’s competition with mononucleosis, completed his undefeated 2006 season with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Thomas Light (Episcopal).

‘‘Andrew Zutz has had a great year,” Schore said. ‘‘A lot of the guys he played last year and won closes matches against, he completely destroyed this year. Most of the other guys did also. They really came along this year, really improved. Will’s score in the finals, that is the best match he’s played against David.”

Bullis also tallied wins at No. 4 singles and swept the doubles competition. Chris Seckman defeated Episcopal’s Sanders Phelps, 6-2, 6-2 in the fourth singles slot. The Bulldogs’ undefeated No. 1 duo of Casey Fashouer and Doug Silverstein overcame a slow start to seal a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Mark Battin and Clark Barber of Episcopal. Brian Lee and Alvin Fludd cruised to a 6-1, 6-3 win over Landon’s Shani Weerakoon and Robert Gelb at No. 2 doubles and Chris Latham and Alex Jackson clinched the No. 3 doubles title with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Omeed Assefi and Evan Dupart (Landon). Episcopal’s Paul Light picked up the only non-Bullis win, defeating Bullis’ Ronald Kamdem in a fierce 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 battle at No. 3 singles.

Coming off a stellar 2005 season, the Bulldogs knew they were going to be the target on opponents’ schedules. But they didn’t succumb to the pressures. Rather they thrived off the challenge of maintaining their superiority in the Interstate Athletic Conference —successfully defending their IAC regular-season title — and in area tennis in general.

‘‘I thought the guys handled themselves well in a tennis manner as well as being gentlemen,” Schore said.