Dover girls win first ever state tennis championship

The Dover girls’ tennis team with their state championship.

MIDDLETOWN — All season, the Dover High girls’ tennis team has thought about how close it was to history last season.

The Senators ended up one point short of their first state title in 2018.

“One point, that hurt a lot,” said junior Victoria Anyanwu.

This year though, it’s a different story.

Dover celebrated its first state championship in program history as the Senators accumulated 22 points to top the girls’ team standings on the final day of the DIAA state tennis tournament Wednesday at St. Andrew’s School.

“It’s cool to get something new for Dover,” said Dover coach Kevin Papen. “We got second last year and no one stopped, no one said, ‘We’re good with second.’ They worked really hard, took lots of lessons. They did all the work.”

Tower Hill took home the boys’ title with 27 points. Caesar Rodney was second with 18.

The Senators’ 22 points were enough to edge second-place St. Andrew’s in the girls’ competition.

Anyanwu was one of two individual champions for Dover. She won the No. 2 singles title with a victory in straight sets (6-4, 6-2).

It was the second consecutive state title for Anyanwu, who was the No. 1 singles state champion a year ago.

And she wasn’t the only Anyanwu to win on Wednesday.

Her younger sister, freshman Olivia Anyanwu, was the No. 3 singles champion thanks to another straight set victory (6-2, 6-4).

“It feels amazing,” Olivia Anyanwu said. “It’s an honor really. We all worked together and helped our teammates out. From the beginning we knew this is what we wanted and we were going to go for it,”

Victoria Anyanwu’s match ended a few minutes before Olivia’s, meaning she could rush over to watch the final points and celebrate with her sister.

“That’s a lot of fun, to play with her,” Victoria Anyanwu said. “It’s nice to watch her play and cheer her on.”

Dover also received second-place finishes from sophomore Erika Synoski at No. 1 singles and the No. 1 doubles team of senior Erin Biddle and Shing-Rue Lin.

Synoski was the second singles player a year ago but defeated Victoria Anyanwu in preseason for the No. 1 singles spot. Papen said the lineup change didn’t matter to the Senators who were all focused on the state title.

“When you’re that competitive, all you want to do is win,” he said. “That’s what I said to our girls this year, I want to win every match.”

Dover joins Caesar Rodney, Milford, Seaford and Cape Henlopen as the only girls’ teams to win a state team title.

It broke a streak of three girls’ championships in a row by Caesar Rodney. The Senators are the first non-Caesar Rodney Henlopen Conference team to win a tennis championship since the Milford girls in 1997.

“I’m just really proud of my team,” Victoria Anyanwu said. “I’m happy to see how much everyone has grown. It’s just been a great season overall.”

Katherine Tamesis of Caesar Rodney finished in second place at No. 2 singles.

The Riders also had four runner-up spots in the boys’ competition as Rishi Gunderkaram (first singles), Darin Jawahar (second singles), Garrett Wrede (third singles) and the team of Jhayden Pappas and Francis Tamesis (first doubles) all took home second.

Tower Hill’s Robby Ward was the No. 1 singles on the boys’ side while Aubrey Nisbett of Wilmington Friends won the girls’ title.

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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