Dover girls, Tower Hill boys repeat as DIAA Tennis champions
MIDDLETOWN – The Dover girls and Tower Hill boys had to wait much longer than they wanted to defend their team championships in the DIAA Tennis Tournament.
So when both teams pulled it off on Thursday at St. Andrew’s School, the exhilaration was even sweeter.
“Last year, they would have also done pretty well, we think,” Dover girls coach Kevin Papen said. “So it was sad for them because they worked so hard and put in so much time and so much effort. So it was, like, double worth it.”
The Senators won their first team championship in 2019 and came back with a loaded lineup only to see the entire season wiped out last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Dover players stayed in shape, kept working on their games and put it all on display in this year’s state tournament, sweeping all three singles titles.
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Senior Erika Synoski downed Tower Hill’s Clare Dignazio 6-0, 6-2 at No. 1. Junior Olivia Anyanwu topped Caesar Rodney’s Erin Gross 6-3, 6-0 at No. 2. And sophomore Evie Snyder took care of St. Andrew’s Eliot Richards 6-3, 6-0 at No. 2.
“I was just trusting my shots and staying aggressive, keeping a positive mindset the whole time,” said Synoski, who won the No. 2 singles title as a freshman and finished second at No. 1 singles as a sophomore. “Most of all, just keeping up my confidence. I knew that I could pull out the win if I did all of those things.”
Her opponent was certainly impressed with Synoski’s game.
“She was just so consistent at hitting hard,” Dignazio said. “It wasn’t like I could hit five shots in and eventually she would be missing. I would have to really win the point to win the point.”
The Senators edged Tower Hill 25-22 for the girls crown. The Hillers swept the doubles titles, with Siena Sysko and Ella Shepherd downing Dover’s Shing Lin and Teri Crawford 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) in first doubles and Meghan Mumford and Ava Etlinger outdueling St. Andrew’s Shuofei Xu and Zoe Clowney 6-4, 6-4 in second doubles.
Tower Hill repeated its boys team title from two years ago, steaming past Caesar Rodney 23-19.
“All I had to do was get them to play their best because their best was going to be good enough,” Hillers boys coach Jared Klose said. “Fantastic season for these guys. Undefeated all season long, and they were able to show their best tennis in the tournament.”
Archmere freshman Andy Zhu, the third seed, knocked off top-seeded Charlie Sternberg of Sanford 6-2, 6-2 for the boys first singles championship.
“I haven’t played him in about six months, so I just changed up my strategy,” Zhu said. “I tried to hit more high balls and slices, changing up my game. Not hitting the same shot every time, not giving him rhythm.”
The players had met several times before in practice sessions, but this was the first time Zhu came out on top.
“He got everything back,” Sternberg said. “I’m usually the better offensive player, and he was just so good at walking the ball back and his footwork was great.”
Caesar Rodney’s Darin Jawahar downed Charter of Wilmington’s Noah Reice 6-2, 6-1 for the second singles title.
Tower Hill won the No. 3 singles, with Mike Dignazio topping Charter’s Navia Armstrong 6-2, 6-3.
The Hillers also swept the doubles, with Matthew Heinle and Demetrios Moutsatsos rallying past CR’s Ramon Manjon and Troy Boehne 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 in first doubles and Jack Allen and Davis Bland besting CR’s Caleb Anthony and Gilbert Hoffman 6-1, 6-2 in second doubles.
Contact Brad Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ