After three years of falling just short in the DIAA Boys Tennis State Tournament, St. Andrew’s boys’ team broke through in a big way by winning the team title Wednesday at the University of Delaware Field House tennis courts.
The Saints finished second in each of the last three years, but thanks to four individual titles they earned 25 points and beat second-place Tower Hill by nine points.
“Three years of second has finally been broken. We’ve always joked about the [Class of] 2013 curse because we have taken second year after year since our seniors’ freshman year,” junior Ryan Chiu said. “This is the year to break it and leave it all out on the court. So it’s a great feeling.”
Chiu and Doug McLaurin were in position to clinch the overall title in the championship match in second doubles against the Hillers’ Spencer Johnson and James Fleming. Chiu and McLaurin won the first set 6-1, but Johnson and Flemming responded by winning the second 7-5, setting up a decisive final set.
Chiu and McLaurin started off the third set slow, falling behind 4-1, but they gathered themselves, winning six of the last seven games and set 7-5 to win the match and secure the tile.
Chiu and McLaurin were not partners to start the year, as McLaurin teamed with his twin brother, Reed, but the twins lacked chemistry, so they were split. Doug was paired with Chiu, and Reed joined Pep Ruckpanich.
The switch also benefited Reed McLaurin and Ruckpanich, as they won the title in first doubles, knocking off the Caesar Rodney duo of Christopher Gravelle and Trey Parker, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.
With a state title already in their grasp, St. Andrew’s also took two singles titles. Riley McDonough won second singles 6-0, 6-4 over Tatnall’s Scott Battaglia, and Jasper Haritz won third singles, beating the Riders’ Parker Barton 6-2, 6-3.
“I already knew that we won the state title when I took the court,” Haritz said. “It feels a lot better. I did all I could. It’s nice and beautiful to have both.”
Salesianum’s Alex Matulas was the only non-Saint to earn a state title, winning in straight sets over Tower Hill’s Chris Martinez 6-2, 6-3 and completing a solid tournament run.
“It feels nice. I played a steady and consistent match. It was a good match all around,” Matulas said. “I just played the way I know how to play.”