CR boys, Dover girls win Henlopen Conference tennis titles

Rishi Gundakaram holds up the Henlopen Conference trophy to show his teammates after CR was crowned the champion for the 10th straight year. Delaware State News/Ben Heck

BETHANY BEACH — It was a clean sweep for both Caesar Rodney High and Dover High Saturday afternoon.

The CR boys’ tennis team captured its 10th straight conference title, while the Dover girls’ team grabbed their second title in a row at the Henlopen Conference tennis championships at Sea Colony Tennis Center.

Both the Rider boys and Senator girls earned the team titles with wins in the first, second and third singles and first and second doubles matches.

“It feels pretty nice, especially when you can win it outright,” said Dover girls coach Kevin Papen. “Everyone gets to win. They all played very well today.”

While the Dover girls last year snapped an 11-year title streak for the CR girls, which lasted from 2007-2017, the CR boys have continued its decade of dominance at the conference tourney.

Caesar Rodney’s second singles player Darin Jawahar returns a serve during his finals win over Smyrna’s Alexandar Savich.

“We have a lot of experience,” said CR boys’ coach James Harvey. “We go out there to have fun, we go out there to learn to play this game.”

Rishi Gundakaram defeated Polytech High’s Blake Weber 6-2, 6-3 for the first singles title, while freshman teammate Darin Jawahar earned a 6-4, 6-1 win for second singles title and junior Garrett Wrede grabbed a 6-1, 6-1 third singles win.

Jawahar defeated Smyrna High’s Alexandar Savich for the title, while Wrede defeated Smyrna freshman Phillip Hughes in the title match after earning consecutive 6-0, 6-0 wins over his previous two opponents.

It was the senior Gundakaram’s third straight conference title, grabbing the first singles titles as a sophomore and junior as well.

“Coach always says that firstly, we play to have fun, and then we play to win. And it’s nice to do both,” said Gundakaram. “It’s really cool to be a part of the tradition of winning here.”

Dover’s Erika Synoski returns a serve delivered by her CR opponent Nora Frederick during Saturday’s first singles finals match.

The team of sophomore Jhayden Pappas and senior Francis Tamesis defeated Indian River High’s Yves Graf and Brian Quezada by score of 6-0, 6-0 in the first doubles match.

Junior Akshay Bachavala and sophomore Michael Sell grabbed a 6-1, 6-3 title win over Polytech High’s Christian Cote and Bruce Lanoue in the second doubles match.

“The entire team has been working and working,” said Gundakaram. “I think we’ve done a really good job this year of staying focused and working on our goal, and we accomplished our goal today.”

The Polytech boys grabbed the runner-up spot, finishing six points ahead of third-place Smyrna.

On the girls’ side of things, Dover’s Erika Synoski earned a 6-1, 6-2 first singles win over CR’s Nora Frederick.

Teammate Victoria Anyanwu defeated CR’s Katherine Tamesis by a score of 6-2, 6-1 and freshman Olivia Anyanwu won the third singles title with a 6-0 6-0 win over Cape Henlopen High’s Marcella Sabbagh.

It was the sophomore Synoski and junior Victoria Anyanwu’s second consecutive titles, with Synoski grabbing the second singles and Anyanwu earning the first singles title a season ago.

“It feels awesome to come back and win again as first singles,” said Synoski. “I wanted to stay aggressive, and I knew if I kept that up then good things would happen.”

“I played her (Sabbagh) twice during the season, so I kind of knew what to expect from her,” said Anyanwu. “[My approach] was still just the same, to come out and play strong and just do my best.”

The first doubles team of senior Erin Biddle and freshman Shing-Rue Lin picked up a 6-0, 6-1 title win over CR’s Chloe Therese Mangubat and Selma Cemerlic.

The Senators’ second doubles team of sophomore Anna Canalichio and junior Corina Kwok kept things close, but eventually pulled away with a 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 title win over Cape’s team of freshmen Juliana Warnock and Samantha Connors.

The Caesar Rodney girls grabbed the runner-up spot behind Dover, finishing just ahead of third-place Cape Henlopen.

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