Sunday, September 25, 2022

St. Albans boys, National Cathedral girls take home DCSAA tennis titles


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It was an emotional roller coaster on one court and a war of attrition on another at the D.C. State Athletic Association tennis tournament Thursday at the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center.

The St. Albans boys claimed their first DCSAA team championship after a marathon singles match against rival Sidwell Friends, and National Cathedral recovered from a setback to prevail on the girls’ side.

In a blistering match that lasted more than two hours, Cyrus Zia of St. Albans and Aristotelis Bezianis of Sidwell showcased the best high school tennis that D.C. has to offer. After a rough start, Zia said he used the breaks to regain his focus and endurance.

“I went to the bathroom to re-center myself before the second set, and that’s when I really started playing,” Zia said. “I’m not going to lie — a little bit was the AC. I needed some cold air. … I needed some privacy, and I sort of just sat there and thought about what happened during the first set and what I can do in the second set. Then I washed my hands, looked in the mirror, and I was like: ‘You know what? Let’s do this thing.’ “

After he rallied for a 6-7, 6-4, 10-7 win, Zia’s work wasn’t done. He and Bezianis had to prepare for a doubles rematch, this time with their siblings at their sides.

The day built up to that battle of brothers: Cameron and Cyrus Zia vs. Aristotelis and Demetrios Bezianis. Injuries flaring up on Sidwell’s side led to a 6-0 St. Albans victory that clinched the team title.

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As for the Zia brothers, the match forged a new bond.

“We don’t play doubles too much together,” Cameron said. “… At this tournament, it worked out great. We’re going to play more doubles definitely together.”

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Zias. They faced off in the singles semifinals, then switched from opponents to teammates to play doubles. Cameron said their closeness helped him accept his defeat, but it also led to some heated moments while playing together.

“It’s definitely easier to express your good feelings towards your partner, especially when it’s your brother,” Cameron said.

“It’s also easier to express your bad feelings,” Cyrus added. “Sometimes, for example, when you miss a shot, he’ll be like, ‘Bro, we practiced this yesterday, like, for an hour.’ ”

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St. Albans secured its team title with 46 points; Sidwell was second with 40.

The National Cathedral girls remained positive even in the face of setbacks. Sophomore Hayley Shea lost her singles championship match to Archbishop Carroll’s Brunelle Tchuedem-Kouam, 6-3, 6-0, before rallying to clinch the team win in doubles by posting an 8-4 victory with partner Reina Chiang against Chloe Walker and Eva Doomes of St. John’s.

“Something that’s special about this team is that we never really take steps back, even if there are setbacks,” Shea said. “We see the sport in a positive way to the point where we all collectively move forward together, which I think is difficult to find in a game that’s so mentally challenging.”

National Cathedral finished with 44 points; St. John’s was second with 28.

National Cathedral claimed its second DCSAA title, and the Eagles are aiming for an Independent School League championship in the fall.

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