By: Drew Hendrickson, Director of Tennis, Fitness, and Summer Programs
The action has been so fast and furious so far this season that Your Scribe has barely been able to keep up.
Astute fans of the MSTL are not surprised to see the Curley atop the regular season standings this spring season. The Flying Lions were in the top 2 in pre-season power rankings and have as much talent and depth as any team in the League.
Not everyone, however, is aware that Coach Payne Schanski has not lost a regular season match since the fall of 2016. That’s unofficially a 12-match winning streak. Heading into every team tennis match, he has that historic streak on the line. That extra tidbit of motivation can be a big difference maker when figuring out a line-up.
The closest call for the Flying Lions came against the reigning Holiday Classic Champs, the Mario Umana Academy Eagles. When these two titans locked horns, the Curley squeaked out a 16-13 win. In that early season tussle, Katherine Arauz led the way for the Flying Lions. Her 6-3 win over the Umana’s Angel Gomez at 2nd singles was pivotal as it evened the team score after singles play. At 1st singles, the Umana’s Diego Acuna had beaten Nayshawn Niles 6-4, so it was neck and neck heading into the doubles.
In that decisive match, Vanel Chady and Dave Ebanks sealed the deal for the Curley as they bested William Phie and Andrea Ortiz, 6-4.
Chady and Ebanks are making some serious waves in the League this year. A dynamic duo every day in practice, this pair is leading the Curley team by example.
More recently, Ebanks scored another big win over the Irving. This time he paired with 7th grader Amber Solo to defeat Damian Palomin and Elijah Quinones from the Irving 8-5. The Curley took that contest 31-16, and Big Dave further established himself as a crucial contributor to Schanski’s streak.
The McCormack is also having success this season with two wins in the early going. Their first victory came over the Frederick. Emmanuel George led the way for the Panthers with a 6-0 win over Owen Turner. Jomar Baez’s 6-2 win over David Puello secured the team victory for the McCormack. Jason Dehormes and Javon Fuquay put a check in the win column for the Frederick with a 6-2 triumph in doubles.
The McCormack’s second win of the season came at the expense of the Umana Eagles. Speaking of the defeat, Coach Mike Dolph reported merely that it was a “tough day for the Umana.”
Understatement of the year! The McCormack took the Eagles apart with 6-1, 6-1, and 6-0 wins. No one is counting the Umana Eagles out, but they have got to be licking their wounds after that drubbing.
Regular season results notwithstanding, the highlight of this spring season has no doubt been the first ever G3 Championships.
This inaugural event took place at Harvard’s Murr Center on February 9th. And while the Irving walked home with the 2nd doubles championship and the Curley hoisted the winners’ trophies at 1st doubles, it was the Umana who stood tall in the Team Champions Winner’s Circle.
This is the third team championship for the Umana this season, and the first for Co-Coaches Lauren Munday and Lucie Gulino. Enter their names into the hallowed list of championship pedigree coaches. They may be the first AmeriCorps Fellows to break through the glass ceiling of that elite company.
Leading the Umana Eagles to that illustrious team championship were Hend Chavi and Perla Ortiz, who qualified for the 1st doubles finals before losing to Amber Solo and Katherine Arauz of the Curley.
And it was Jisell Ochoa and Janisse Palacios of the Umana whose crucial points secured the victory, despite their tough loss to Espy Maestre and Aliya Morales from the Irving in the 2nd doubles finals.
In addition to the drama that played out in the Middle School Academy (MSA) doubles draw, a Pathway-wide singles tournament took place at the same time.
Several brave MSA representatives acquitted themselves quite well in this tournament. The Curley’s Rain Twohads, the Frederick’s Worknesh Bekele, and the Umana’s Ana Ventura all raised their games to compete against mostly high school players.
Of those high schoolers, it was freshman Vivi Vega who won the event, beating fellow freshman Jenny Van in the finals. 12th grader Miranda Harkess and 8th grader Worknesh Bekele rounded out the semi-finalists.
Overall, the G3 Championships were a total success. The credit for that success goes to a creative and dedicated group of AmeriCorps Fellows who came up with the idea and saw it through. Huge thanks to those who masterminded and implemented this event – we look forward to more G3 Championships in years to come.