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Knights narrowly miss a complete tennis sweep

For the third time in as many years, the SDSSAA Tennis Championships crowned brand new champions in both boys and girls singles play. This time around, however, there is hope for longevity.

Only in grade nine, Lo-Ellen sensation Andrew Varghese cruised through the boys draw, easily ousting Sebastien Bouchard of Collège Notre-Dame in the final. While his older brother, Akshay, would claim just one title, that in 2011, Andrew is hopeful that this is but the beginning of his legacy.

"I am beating my brother consistently now," he replied, when talk of the sibling rivalry surfaced. "I've played a lot with (coach) Paul (Robert) and my other teachers, so I've had a lot more time to develop my spin and shots and serves."

"My ground strokes are a lot more consistent now. I can easily pick the corner and hit a hard shot there." Despite his youth, Varghese has already targeted pretty lofty goals.

"I never underestimate anyone, but I want to win NOSSA too and do well at OFSAA, maybe a top eight finish," he said. If the crowning of Varghese was never in doubt, the boys mixed doubles final, by contrast, was prone to wild fluctutations.

With the Lo-Ellen tandem of William McCormick and Jeffrey Dodds advancing undefeated, their counterparts from Lockerby would need to win back to back matches to claim gold. The Vikings pairing of Jack Wisniewski and Emmett Taillefer looked well on their way to doing just that, blasting the Knights duo 10-2 in the first encounter.

McCormick and Dodds took that loss to heart, it seemed, jumping all over the Vikes in match two, and bolting to a 9-2 lead. Cue the comeback, as Wisniewski and Taillefer win five straight sets, narrowing the gap to 9-7, before eventually falling to the Knights.

"We had two games to play, they had to beat us twice," explained McCormick. "Once we got down (in first game), we focused on trying to find ways to try and beat them. They are obviously a fantastic team."

And while that worked well through much of the second match, McCormick knew better than to count them out. "It's just resiliency," he noted. "They had beaten us once before, by such a crushing amount. They started taking things a little slower, and now you just focus on playing some good tennis."

And though he is no stranger to the court, the grade 10 student at Lo-Ellen was quick to deflect the praise to Dodds, his partner who is a regular at the Sudbury Indoor Tennis Center.

"Jeff is a fantastic tennis player, far better than me," suggested McCormick. "I had to find my strengths and then stay within those. For me, as funny as this may sound, it's just about not messing up. It's keeping the rally going until he (Dodds) can get one of his excellent forehands or backhands off."

The girls singles final followed a similar path to boys doubles, as Chloe Madore-Bouffard of Macdonald-Cartier forced a rematch with a 10-2 win over Connie Zeng of Lo-Ellen, only to see the tables turned a short while later, as Zeng claims first place thanks to a 10-8 triumph.

The girls doubles bragging rights remained at CND for a third straight year as Kaitlyn Falvo and Mireille Kingsley upended Logan Waltenbury and Laurelle Gillard of Lo-Ellen 10-6.

And finally, in mixed doubles play, a marathon was forced when Alex Frappier and Alyssa Fleury of Horizon survived a tie-breaker, beating Bronwyn Mantle and Ben Ashley of Lo-Ellen 11-9 as everything else was wrapping up.

Game two would see the Knights bounce back to the tune of a 10-4 win, allowing Mantle and Ashley to claim gold. Lo-Ellen also snapped a four year run by the Collège Notre-Dame Alouettes in terms of the overall team aggregate, as coach Richard Breault and company walked away with the banner.

All of the finalists in all five categories are back in action next week, as the NOSSA tennis championships return to Sudbury, allowing SDSSAA two entries per division.

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