(May 8, 2015) The Worcester Prep girls’ and boys’ tennis squads swept the May 1 Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference tournament in Centreville, winning both singles and doubles championship matches to take home team titles.
Three out of the four finals matches consisted of Worcester Prep players.
The Lady Mallards captured their 10th consecutive ESIAC team title.
Prep Coach Cyndee Hudson said after two big 6-1 victories over Parkside and James M. Bennett last week the Mallards were peaking at the right time going into the tournament.
Senior Tatjana Kondraschow went undefeated in singles competition, outscoring Saints Peter & Paul’s Ashley Wagner 8-2 to win the title.
“She played her twice this year so she knew what to expect,” Hudson said. “She played really well. I was really tickled for her. She did a great job.”
In the all-Worcester Prep doubles final, senior Mattie Maull and junior Isabel Carulli topped senior Natalie Twilley and junior Erika Smith 8-1.
The only game Maull and Carulli – who both played singles this season – lost all day was to their Prep teammates. The pair won their other two matches 8-0.
“It was tough to watch as a coach,” Hudson said of the all-Worcester final. “They had fun playing each other. I’m happy with their level of play. There was much more talent and skill shown than in any other [doubles] match.”
Senior Quinn Lukas went 3-0 in singles play to earn the title. He logged an 8-1 victory over teammate Zach Wilson, a sophomore, in the championship round.
“Quinn’s game has changed dramatically since the beginning of the season,” Prep Coach Terry Underkoffler said. “He really mixes it up and waits for his shots. He’s been on his game. His No. 1 goal this season was to be No. 1 overall.”
Underkoffler thought both players performed well.
“They were outstanding. It was great to get them both in the finals,” he said. “Once Quinn got up 4-1, Zach was a little out of gas because he had a harder road to get to the finals.”
Seniors Kyle Chandler and Erik Zorn, who both played singles this season, teamed up for doubles competition to defend their 2014 title.
The pair won their first two matches easily, 8-0, then had a break before facing fellow Mallards, senior Chris Choy and junior Charlie Pritchard, in the finals.
Choy and Prichard fought to 8-6 and 8-5 victories to advance to the championship match.
“They worked hard to get to the finals,” Underkoffler said.
About 15 minutes after their last match they had to take the court against Chandler and Zorn, who were well rested, Underkoffler said.
Zorn and Chandler edged out their opponents 8-3 to take home their second consecutive doubles title.
“They’re experienced and athletic and they win a lot of points at the net. They’re hard to beat at the net,” Underkoffler said.
Players who advanced to the finals were named to the All-ESIAC First Team. The boys’ and girls’ singles champions – Kondraschow and Lukas – received Conference Player of the Year honors.
The Lady Mallards finished the year undefeated, 13-0.
“They had goals and they worked toward them,” Hudson said. “The returners were strong and the [six] new girls made significant progress. They were smarter about placement and shot selection and they were thinking about what they were doing.”
The squad will lose seven players to graduation, most of whom were in the starting line-up.
Despite losing key contributors, Hudson thinks the team will be strong next season.
“I’m looking forward to it,” she said.
The boys’ team went 10-3 this season. It was the first time in six years the boys captured the ESIAC team title.
“They improved a lot over the course of the season. Each and every one of them got better,” Underkoffler said. “They boys had a lot of fun playing and that kind of enthusiasm spreads.”
Underkoffler said he enjoyed his first season coaching the boys’ team. He has coached soccer for 36 years and has led Worcester’s boys’ squad for three seasons.
Coaching a different sport is “refreshing,” he said, and with fewer players than a soccer team he can give athletes more individualized attention.
“I inherited a great team. It’s nice to have all the tools to work with,” Underkoffler said. “I had such a good time coaching them. It’s been an absolute pleasure.”
Four of the 14 players on his roster will graduate at the end of the month. All of them were in the starting line-up.
“We have some young guys coming up and a good nucleus coming back,” Underkoffler said.