By Dennis Atwood - firstname.lastname@example.org
WOODSTOCK -- The Central Falcons boys tennis team faced a ferocious opponent In its final match of the season, hosting the two-time defending state champion George Mason Mustangs on Wednesday afternoon.
With a program that has captured the top state honors six of the last eight years, the Mustangs played every bit like champions in sweeping the Falcons, 9-0.
Central finished the year at 9-3, 2-2 Bull Run, a notable achievement for a squad that was in a rebuilding year after losing the three top seeds from last year's team.
"It was pretty good year," Falcons coach Andrew Wetzel said. "Last year, we were 9-5 and we lost three of our top four seeds. Having a 9-3 record this year is a lot better than a lot of people thought we were gonna do. I'm really proud of my team.
"Mason's the team to beat, even when I was in high school. So we knew, coming in, that it was really going to be really tough. The odds were against us, but we really fought hard. I fully expect Mason to win the states again this year."
The most competitive match for Central was at No. 5 singles, where senior Brandon Carter dueled George Mason junior Santiago Villalon for one hour and 15 minutes before Villalon prevailed, 11-9
Villalon demonstrated superb shot placement skills and had Carter running all over the court on defense.
Serving at 9-9 and up 30-15, Villalon hit two service winners to win the game and go up 10-9.
On the ensuring service game, Carter showed tiredness in double faulting for the first point, and, trailing 40-15, hit a cross-court shot wide for an unforced error on the match-winning point.
"The first time we played [April 11], I won 11-9, so we're pretty much equal," Carter said. "[Today] he outplayed me, working the ball around a lot better than me. But it was a good match, overall. [Villalon] played a heck of a game. [I need to work on] my back-hand, and getting some better saves. But I had a good season. I'm proud the way it ended up."
At No. 3 singles, Central senior Jesse Canzurlo worked to a 4-4 tie before dropping the next six games in a row to the Mustang's captain, senior lefty Karl Campanella-Dysart.
At No. 1 singles, defending singles state champion Kan Tagami displayed mastery in all aspects of his game in topping junior Nick Andrick, 10-1, and at No. 2 George Mason junior Tommy Weber beat junior Colbey Ryman, 10-0.
At No. 4, Falcons freshman Bobby Loveland fell to Nate Jones, 10-3, and at No. 6, Jakob Karstens dispatched senior Michael Beaune, 10-1.
In No. 1 doubles, Weber/Campanello-Dysart cruised to a 10-1 win over Andrick/Loveland.
Tagami/Jones took the No. 2 doubles match, 10-5, and at No. 3, Villalon/Alex McDonald prevailed, 10-5, over Carter/Canzurlo.
Wetzel identified two players as having made the most improvement this season.
"[Canzurlo] transferred in from Ohio, and he started off the season playing sparingly. He's worked his way into the lineups consistently to reach the No. 3 spot, so he definitely improved throughout the season," Wetzel said. "Loveland was an eighth-grader on the team last year, and was only allowed to play exhibitions. He really stepped up his game and he's been playing three, four, and five in singles, and he's had a lot of success."
Because only three Bull Run District schools field tennis teams, there will not be a district tournament.
George Mason has two matches remaining, both against Clarke County, and they are the prohibitive favorites to win both of them and advance to regional play.