Milford’s Williamson wins boys’ state tennis title; CR takes boys’ crown

DOVER — It was a final every spectator asks for: two evenly matched players giving it all they’ve got in a long and competitive match.

In the end, it was second-seeded Colt Williamson of Milford, a junior, who came out on top with a 7-6 (7-1), 7-5 win over top-seeded Robby Ward of Tower Hill in Tuesday’s state boys’ tennis final.

Caesar Rodney took home the boys’ team title with 22 points, followed by Tower Hill with 19. Tower Hill came out on top of the girls’ team competition with 22 points, edging out CR with 19.

Milford junior Colt Williamson captured the boys first singles final. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers )

Milford junior Colt Williamson captured the boys first singles final. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers )

“I’ve played him twice and I won the first time and he won the second, so I just put together everything I did to beat him in our first match and used it again today,” Williamson said after the victory.

Things were tight right out of the gate in the first set with Williamson earning the early break in the third game, only for Ward to break back in the sixth.

After another trade of breaks near the end of the set, the players were taken into a tiebreaker where Williamson set the pace quickly and snagged the set, allowing Ward only one point in the tiebreaker.

Williamson was on serve to start the second set and broke Ward’s serve in the second game only to be broken back in the third.

In a match with nine breaks of serve, neither player was able to rely solely on their strong serve to get them ahead. And both players did serve well, each only racking up a couple of double faults despite the afternoon sun and gusty conditions.

Both players were most comfortable at the baseline and only drew the other into the net on a handful of points. Because both players were so quick on their feet, it became evident in the first set that a drop shot or lob were not reliable shots to win points.

Nearly every game was drawn out as both players saw their best chances of winning points coming from long rallies, keeping their opponent on the run. To end points, Williamson favored going to winners down the line while Ward typically looked for an opening cross court.

Williamson was finally able to close the match on his serve, giving up only one point in the game.

“It was hard not to stress or get nervous,” Williamson said. “We were supposed to play on Thursday but because it rained, we had to wait almost a week to finally play and that’s a long time to keep your nerves down. But I’m really excited I made it through and even more than that, I’m relieved to have it over with.”

Williamson also is the reigning boys’ first singles champ in the Henlopen Conference.

Until Tuesday, both players were undefeated in their conference but Ward, an eighth-grader, went in with two more victories in the season than Williamson.

The Cinderella story of the tournament came to an end Tuesday afternoon when the unseeded Dover girls’ first doubles lost in straight sets to the third-seed, Tower Hill in the final.

The first set was a tight 6-4 win for Tower Hill but the team was able to pick up their pace to outdo Dover 6-0 in the second.

Senior Emma Patterson of the Dover team came off the court after the loss with tears in her eyes.

“Don’t worry, I’m not crying because I’m sad,” she said with a smile. “I’m so proud of what we were able to do, it’s just really bittersweet because this was my last match for Dover High.”

Patterson’s partner, freshman Haley Scheir, agreed with he sentiments.

“It’s crazy that we ended up here,” she said. “I want to give credit to my partner and to our whole team for supporting us the whole way.”

The pair ousted the top-seeded Friends in the third round before going on to defeat fourth-seeded Archmere in the semifinals. Both upsets were won in straight sets.

For boys’ doubles, second-seeded Caesar Rodney faced off against top-seed Tower Hill on Tuesday with the Riders coming out on top with a 6-3, 6-3 victory.

“We made it to this point pretty easily, although our semifinal against Wilmington was really tough and I think that prepared us for today,” freshman David Haynes said.

“From the start, I think we just fell into a good rhythm and it feels good to leave here on a high note,” senior partner Alex Feuerstein said.

As a senior, Tuesday’s match was his last as a Rider.

For girls’ first singles, top-seed Annie Jaskulski of Friends defeated second-seed Grace Shiau of Wilmington Charter 6-1,6-2. In second singles, Grace Dignazio of Tower Hill defeated Hannah Morris of CR 6-3, 6-1 and in third singles, Natasha Sijan of CR defeated Jolie Chin of St. Andrew’s 6-1, 6-0.

Wilmington Charter defeated Tower Hill 7-5, 6-4 in girls’ second doubles.

The remaining girls’ teams were Archmere with 14, Wilmington Charter, 16; St. Andrew’s, 11; Ursaline, Tatnall and Dover, 7; Smyrna, 5; Middletown, 4; St. Thomas More and Sanford, 3; St. Mark’s, Conrad and Mt. Pleasant, 2 and;  Padua, Cape Henlopen, Brandywine, Indian River, Newark, Polytech and William Penn, 1.

On the boys’ side, second singles top seed Drew Manning defeated Trey Parker of CR, 6-1, 6-2 and third singles went to Brett Saunders of Conrad who defeated Donnan Gravelle 5-7, 6-1, 6-2.

In second doubles, CR defeated Salies 6-4, 7-5.

Boys’ schools following Caesar Rodney and Tower Hill were Tatnall, Wilmington Friends and St. Andrews, 11; Archmere, Wilmington Charter and Salies, 9; Conrad, 7; Milford, 6; St. Mark’s and St. Thomas More, 4; Brandywine Concord and Sanford, 3; Middletown, Glasgow and Mt. Pleasant, 3 and; Lake Forest, Newark and Smyrna with 1.

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