Archmere wins individual championships in two events
NEWARK – Caesar Rodney used a deep roster and multiple wins in the final round to take both the boys’ and girls’ state tennis championships, but it was a successful season for Archmere, which captured two second-place team finishes and a pair of individual titles. CR edged the Auks in the team standings, 21-20. The final round of the state tournament was staged May 26 on a hot afternoon at the University of Delaware Field House.
Robby Ward completed an unbeaten season for the Auks with a 6-4, 6-4 upset of Milford’s Colton Williamson in the first singles match. Williamson had been 14-0 coming into the tournament, while Ward was 8-0. After taking the first set, Ward built up a 5-1 lead in the second before Williamson made his move.
Williamson held serve to make it 5-2 before Ward served with an opportunity to win the match. He held match point, but Williamson rebounded with the next three points to break serve and climb within two games. With the score 5-3, Ward had three match points, only to see his opponent escape each time and eventually take his third straight game.
“When I broke my serve, I knew I had another serve to try and hold, so I was really trying to hit the ball and get that game if I could,” Ward said.
In the final game, Ward trailed, 15-30, as Williamson attempted to tie the set, but this time Ward capitalized on match point, his fifth, by placing a drop shot in the middle that Williamson could not reach. Ward, a freshman, said when he and Williamson met previously, he was more nervous and had less of an offensive approach.
“I put a lot of work into it, definitely,” he said. “Last year about this time, I lost to Colt, and I was looking forward to this match all year.”
Earlier, on the same court, Archmere’s No. 1 doubles team of Sam Wayne and Spencer Lutz capped their high school careers with a state title over Tatnall’s Bennett Atwater and Louis Zammaccori. Wayne and Lutz, the top-seeded duo at first doubles, earned a 6-3, 6-2 victory.
Archmere’s pair started strong in the first set, winning the first three games, before the Hornets rebounded with the next two. Lutz served the winner in the set as Tatnall’s return sailed over the end line.
Archmere was up, 5-2, in the second set, and clinched the win in the next game. Wayne and Lutz were up, 40-love, before Atwater and Zammaccori scored the next two points. Wayne, however, ended the match with a winner on the next point, and the seniors had themselves a state championship.
“We took them on during the season and defeated them,” Lutz said. “We really came into the tournament this season just focusing on committing to all of our shots, playing consistent and the intensity of the game.
“This is our life, and to have this happen to us, this is a big accomplishment for us.”
The Auks also had a finalist at third singles. Rahul Subbaraya earned his trip to the final with an upset of the top seed, but he ran into the Caesar Rodney buzzsaw in the final. The Riders’ David Haynes took a 6-0, 6-2 decision.
Archmere tennis has enjoyed something of a renaissance over the past few years, which makes the seniors proud, Wayne said.
“Our team’s been awesome this year. Coming to practice early, staying late. It’s been a big progression because our freshman year, we had a losing record (6-8). As a team this year, we had two losses and we’re in competition for the state title, so it’s been a good run,” he said.
The seniors are leaving, but the Auks will have Ward around for the next three seasons. Ward said his first high school season was “a really awesome year. I know we were looking to win the state championship, but Caesar Rodney played well and all my teammates did really well.”
On the girls’ side, CR won four of the five matches to take the team championship by a 27-18 score over Archmere and Wilmington Charter. The Riders won all but first singles.
Archmere had girls in each of the three singles finals. No. 2 Grace Dignazio lost a 6-4, 6-2 decision at first singles to top-seeded Charter’s Grace Shiau. Halle Parker of Caesar Rodney, seeded second at second singles, pulled the upset of Archmere’s top-seeded Abby Podolsky, 6-1, 6-1. At third singles, the Riders’ Natasha Sijan, seeded first, defeated the No. 2, the Auks’ Alisa Yankovenko, 6-2, 6-2.