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Worcester Prep tennis teams win conference titles

By Managing Editor, Lisa Capitelli | May 17, 2018
The Worcester Prep girls’ and boys’ tennis teams both captured Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference championship titles. They swept the competition, winning both singles, doubles and team awards.

(May 18, 2018) The Worcester Prep girls’ and boys’ tennis teams both captured Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference championship titles.

The girls’ competition consisted of five teams, while three participated in the boys’ event last Saturday on the Salisbury University courts.

The girls’ and boys’ singles and doubles finals consisted of all Worcester players.

In the girls’ singles finals, sophomore Annika Larsen won 8-5 over teammate, sophomore Abi Plylar.

She led 3-0, but Plylar fought back and it was back and forth for the duration.

“They were exhausted. It was their fourth match of the day,” Coach Cyndee Hudson said. “They really battled each other. There were incredible points and great volleys.”

Since the girls’ doubles final featured two Worcester teams, Hudson gave her players the option to play on Saturday or at the Berlin school on Monday. Since it was so hot and a long day of tennis on Saturday, the girls decided to wait until Monday.

Sophomores Saylor McGuiness and Mesa Cammack battled hard with senior captains Anchita Batra and Hope Sens. Points were traded throughout and in the end it went to a tiebreaker set, which Cammack and McGuiness won, 7-1.

“The seniors got off to a strong start – 2-0, 2-1, 3-2, 5-2, then 7-2,” Hudson said. “Then the sophomores got to work. They’ve been in that situation before and they’re comfortable coming from behind and going into a tiebreaker.”

The sophomores chipped away at the lead and pulled ahead 8-7. The seniors tied it 8-8 to force a tiebreaker set. The sophomores were then victorious, 7-1.

“Coming back from 2-7 to win is an unbelievable accomplishment,” Hudson said. “They’re the doubles champs for the second year in a row, and so is Annika.”

Larsen was named Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference Player of the Year as the singles champion.

Larsen, Plylar, Cammack, McGuiness, Batra and Sens received All-ESIAC honors.

“All of the girls played well and just kept battling,” Hudson said.

The Mallards voted Larsen team MVP this year. The Coaches Award went to Batra. Sens earned the Most Improved Award.

Worcester’s boys’ team also swept the tournament titles.

“They played fantastic. Coach [Don] McMullen and I felt we had prepared all season for this day and it worked out exactly as how we wanted to,” Prep Coach Terry Underkoffler said. “They were sharp technically, smart tactically, adjusted to pressure emotionally, and physically dictated pace and presence on the court through the heat of the day.”

Underkoffler said the biggest upset of the tournament was in the first round, when Worcester senior captain Brenner Maull defeated Gunston’s Sam Umidi, the 2017 ESIAC single champion, 8-4.

“It was the clutch performance of his career at Worcester Prep,” Underkoffler said. “Coach McMullen deserves a lot of credit coaching and guiding him through that match, because it featured tactics that Brenner did not use earlier in the season.”

Maull had lost to Umidi earlier in the season, 8-1.

Maull lost in the second round of the tournament to Prep teammate, junior Will Todd, 8-4. Junior Dominic Anthony and Todd met in the singles finals. Anthony edged out his teammate, 8-4.

“Some great tennis was exhibited by both players in an intense match that featured challenging services and returns, long volleys, powerful forehands and great on-court reactions,” Underkoffler said. “It was back and forth in the scoring, even at one point Will Todd up in the match, 4-3, until Dominic pulled away at the end to win 8-4.”

In doubles competition, the Miller brothers – Brendan, a senior captain, and Colin, a junior, – faced Prep teammates, juniors Graham Hammond and Cameron Hill, for the championship. The Millers won, 8-4.

“Brendan and Colin Miller outlasted their teammates in a rematch from practice days featuring, again, some strong play at the net and good serving,” Underkoffler said.

Anthony earned Player of the Year accolades and was presented the team MVP Award. Anthony, Todd, the Millers, Hammond and Hill received All-ESIAC honors.

Maull was given the Coaches Award and the Most Improved Award went to Brendan Miller.

Both Prep teams were undefeated this season. The Lady Mallards went 16-0 and the boys’ squad finished 12-0.

Hudson and Underkoffler were pleased with the season overall.

“This was the first year we won this many matches and were undefeated [at the same time],” Hudson said. “In the beginning not knowing what we had, I’m tickled with the way everything turned out.”

The team will graduate just two players – Sens and Batra – who Hudson said provided great leadership. They encouraged their teammates and motivated them.

They only lost one team match in their four years playing for Worcester.

Hudson said the team should be strong next year, as many underclassmen showed potential.

“If they keep working on their skills, it will add a dimension to the team,” she said.

Underkoffler said this was the first time since 2005 the boys’ squad went undefeated.

He said the season went “just the way Coach McMullen and I wanted it to; finishing the season with everyone in the lineup playing confident with their best tennis on tournament day.”

“We graduate only Brendan and Brenner, two really important leaders, but everyone got so much better it looks great for next year,” Underkoffler said.

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