NEWARK – Colt Williamson delivered a state singles tennis championship to Milford – and was even there for Caesar Rodney if the Riders had needed him.
The Buccaneers junior won a hard-fought No. 1 singles final against top-seeded Robby Ward, Tower’s Hill’s 8th-grade sensation, 7-6 (1), 7-5. It completed an undefeated season for the No. 2 seed and brought to fruition his sense that this could be a special year.
“It feels great,” Williamson said, adding that he wasn’t trying to sound cocky, “but I knew I had a really good shot, or at least a better shot than last year [when he reached the quarterfinals].”
There was nothing easy about it. He fought off a set point in the first set and played from behind for most of the second. And Ward had split two matches against Williamson last summer.
“When it’s a big point, I’m like ‘big point, play big’,” said Williamson. “So, I just went out there and started swinging, just let everything go.”
Serving at 4-5, 30-40 in the first set, Williamson fired a service winner, then came to the net twice to end points and keep the set alive at 5-5. Each player held to force a tiebreaker, which Williamson stormed through 7-1.
“I guess I kind of tensed up,” said Ward of the tiebreaker, “but he didn’t tense up, so …”
Ward twice earned a break in the second set only to have Williamson come back each time to even the game score. In the end, it was a match-up of Williamson’s offensive pressure versus some brilliant defense by the kid, and Milford’s new champion secured the title with one last break.
“He’s a nice guy and played well, so he deserved to win,” Ward said. “I just wanted to have fun. It would’ve been nice to win it, but I’m in 8th grade, so there will be four more years to try to do it again.”
Caesar Rodney edged Tower Hill 22-19 in points to capture the team championship. The Riders actually clinched the title early in the afternoon when Alex Feuerstein and David Hayes won the first doubles crown and Neil Patel and Cyrus Shanehsez triumphed in second doubles.
That meant it no longer mattered if “honorary teammate” Williamson – he plays with the Riders players at Dover Indoor Tennis – took out the Hillers’ Ward for Caesar Rodney to finish on top.
“Doubles did really well,” said CR coach Jim Harvey. “Took the pressure right off the singles guys. We try to go as far as we can, and when you walk off the court, know that the guy on the other side who beat you was better, not because you fooled around.
“Last year, we won by one point. This year, we won by three, but it could have been one if Colt hadn’t won first single.”
Drew Manning of Tower Hill won No. 2 singles in a head-to-head matchup against CR’s Trey Parker 6-1, 6-2, and Conrad’s Brett Saunders rallied in third singles to knock out Donnan Gravelle of CR, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2.