HIGH SCHOOL TENNIS

Internal competitiveness pushes Westwood tennis toward state tournament

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A few weeks ago, Gaurav Singh and Daniel Antov faced off in a tournament. Best friends off the court, the two Westwood tennis players wouldn’t talk to each other during the match, letting the intensity take over. 

That high-level back-and-forth from within the team has helped turn this year’s squad into one of the best, if not the best, group in Warrior tennis history. 

Westwood sends three entries to the State Tennis Tournament this weekend in College Station, including Singh and partner Kiana Graham in mixed doubles, Antov in boys’ singles and Jessica Lu in girls’ singles.

The Warriors won their first-ever team tennis title in the fall. 

“We’ve had such an incredible season in the fall that this is all just icing on the cake,” head coach Travis Dalrymple said. “Westwood has never taken three entries to the state tournament before. It’s just been an incredible year.”

On top of the recent team success, Singh made it to the semifinals of the boys’ singles last year while his partner won the state title in girls’ singles as a freshman in 2017. 

This is the first time that Singh has done mixed doubles, focusing on singles in the past, but his relationship with Graham on the court has been going and he said they compliment each other’s style of play. 

“We have a lot of experience playing at a high level between us and we know what the atmosphere is like,” he said. “I have a pretty good serve that compliments her at the net. She’s a very solid player from the baseline which makes my job easier at the net. We keep a positive attitude.”

The duo finished second in the region to clinch a spot at the state meet. 

Singh was the Warriors’ No. 1 boys singles player in the fall and Antov was No. 2. Dalrymple said when Singh first got to Westwood, he wasn’t the best player, but he had someone that was the example to follow, and now he’s playing the same role. 

It’s clearly been working. 

Antov was undefeated in boys’ singles leading up to the district and regional tournaments. He said it was a big boost in confidence, but it was more surprising to see how much he’s progressed in his second season with the Warriors. 

“You don’t really know how much you have been getting better until you go and compete,” Antov said.  how much you have been getting better. I’ve become a lot more aggressive. I used to wait and let the other player make a mistake. I’m just trying to put the control on myself so I determine if I win or lose.”

Vandegrift is also sending athletes to the tournament in boys’ doubles team of Blaine Kanak and Nic Cusano and girls’ doubles squad of Anisha Apte and Gabby Cusano. 

The quarterfinals for boys’ and girls’ singles begins at 8 a.m. on Thursday morning and the semifinals continue at 2 p.m. The singles’ finals begin at 8:30 a.m. on Friday and the doubles’ finals are set to begin at 10 a.m.

“The team understood right off the bat that we had a chance to be special and they kind of policed themselves,” Dalrymple said. “Them pushing each other has taken us to a level we didn’t even know we had.”

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