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By Tommy Keeler Jr. - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Headley Wilson has won the Northwestern District doubles title before, but for the James Wood senior there's nothing quite like the feeling of winning the singles title.
Wilson defeated Sherando's Sarah Wolfe, 6-1, 6-1 to win her first girls individual singles title on Thursday. Last year, Wilson was the runner-up in the singles tournament.
"It's so nice. I've worked so hard for it," Wilson said. "I never dreamed I would do this. I've been a district doubles champion, but you always want to win the singles, too.
"I couldn't be any happier."
Wilson almost made it a clean sweep in singles and doubles, but she and Tarah Wampler fell to Handley's Jessie Nolan and Kathryn Bock, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, in the doubles final.
Sherando's Kaleb Nguyen won his third straight individual boys singles title with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Handley's Stephen Boppe. Nguyen then teamed with Trey Scott to defeat Handley's Kyle Stickley and Taylor Watts, 6-3, 6-2 in the final. All of the finalists move on to the Region II tournament on May 31 and June 1.
Nguyen said he was very happy with how he played in his singles match.
"I think that was probably one of the best matches I've played all year," Nguyen said. "It feels good to win three in a row."
Boppe plays at No. 4 for Handley in the team competition. Handley's top player Daniel Park had to go to Korea to begin taking college classes, leaving the Judges without a singles player for the individual tournament. Park made the team aware of this a few weeks ago, so Handley coach Jim Robertson got with Stickley and Boppe, the team's only other two seniors, and had them decide who would represent Handley in individual play. The pair decided Boppe would play in singles and Stickley and Watts would play doubles, and now all three are headed to regionals.
"Obviously, it's very exciting," Boppe said. "I just started playing as a freshman, and now to be a senior and to be able to move onto regionals is a good feeling. I'm really excited to have the opportunity."
Early on, it looked as though Stickley and Watts might pull off the upset. The Sherando pair got a service break to go up 2-1 and made it hold up. The Judges weren't quite able to win the big points on the Sherando pair's serve.
With Nguyen and Scott up 4-2 in the second set, the rain came and the match was moved indoors to the Winchester Country Club. The Sherando pair didn't waste any time and quickly put the 55-minute match away.
Nguyen won with Scott two years ago, but then last year he won the title with Trey's older brother Trevor. This year, the pair are back together and picking up right where they left off.
Despite the loss, Stickley and Watts, who usually play at No. 2 doubles for the team, were happy with their performance.
"In the first set Taylor and I came out firing. We played really well," Stickley said. "We're excited to be going to regionals. We're just going to go out and have fun."
Nolan and Bock weren't having a lot of fun in the first set against Wilson and Wampler, the defending Region II doubles champions. Earlier this season, Nolan and Bock beat the James Wood pair 10-4, and the Handley pair said they may have overlooked Wilson and Wampler in the final. After the first three games of the match, the rain came and they headed to the Winchester Country Club to finish.
Wilson and Wampler won the first four games indoors to wrap up the set.
"I think we played really well today," Wampler said. "Now we know what we need to do."
After the first set, Nolan and Bock began to find their games and realized what they needed to do on the court.
"I think the first set we spent most of the time trying to figure out a gameplan," Nolan said. "Then in the second and third sets, we had a gameplan and we executed it."
Leading 4-2 in the second set, Bock had a really long service game. The game went to five deuces before they finally held. The pair didn't look back in winning the 1-hour, 46-minute match.
Nolan is a sophomore and Bock is a freshman and the pair said winning the title was a pleasant surprise.
"It's amazing," Nolan said. "I'm speechless. We were really not expecting this. In regionals we just want to have fun and try our hardest."
Wilson and Wampler lost to Handley last year in the district final and then beat Handley's Sarah Moomau and Katie Gordon in the regional final. In fact, the last three regional finals have been between James Wood and Handley. So, it's no surprise Wilson and Wampler would love to play them again in regionals.
"It was an awesome match -- there's nothing else you can say," Wilson said of Thursday's match. "They are two really strong players. Anytime you play against a similar caliber of players, it gives you so much experience.
"I'm looking forward to hopefully playing against them again. And hopefully it will be another good doubles match."