As Oakton tennis seems to repeat itself, the Cougars face daily challenges

“To play for the team, you have to beat your teammates, and it’s difficult because it pits the teammates against each other,” said junior Myles Olsen, who has struggled to retain his place in the sixth single. “Surprisingly, it’s more pressure to beat my teammates than it is to play against another team, because when you play against another team, you are not playing for the fate of your place.”

For coach Betsy Tyskowski, this competition in the lower positions is the key to Oakton’s success. The Cougars highlight their fourth, fifth and sixth singles as positions they can clean up if their teammates lose matches in the top courts. That’s an explanation for how Oakton won the 2021 Virginia Class 6 team title despite not winning individual tournament titles.

“It’s a tough challenge every single day in practice,” Tyskowski said. “The line-up is not finished and it will not be done until the last regular season match. The children need to know that the window is still open. It is stressful, but it is also really exciting. ”

After an 8-1 win over the South Lakes on Friday, Oakton are 6-0 heading into the spring break.

Olsen says despite all the stress and intensity on the training grounds, the Cougars are good at supporting each other when they are up against conflicting schools.

“Before every match we say, ‘Gunner, I do not care how much it takes, our vocal cords, they must be completely destroyed by the end of this match.’ ”

With 6-0, the Washington-Liberty Generals are off to the program’s best start in recent times. Longtime coach Jimmy Carrasquillo has had plenty of great teams at Arlington School, including a 2016 state title winner, but he knows a start like this is rare.

“They’re just hungry,” Carrasquillo said. “Many of them really haven’t gotten a taste for an entire season. Now that they finally have one, they are ready for it. ”

The generals list includes 11 seniors, but only one who has played a full college season: four-year-old Brandon Bonilla. The others saw their second season taken away and their junior season condensed and hampered by pandemic restrictions.

Last year was uncharacteristically rocky for the Arlington program as the Generals finished 5-7. But Carrasquillo knew the group had plenty of potential. Before this season got underway, he told his team just that.

“Early on, the message was, ‘Okay, we have a talented group. But what are we going to do with it?’ said the coach.

So far, they have shown that talent with a solid defense and a balanced, consistent offensive offense. Through six matches, they have surpassed the opponents 19-3.

“I think these players understand that there is an expectation here,” Carrasquillo said. “And they realize it’s their time to leave a legacy.”

When the Yorktown boys’ lacrosse program emerged in 2000, players expected battles against the best Virginia opponents each season, hoping a victory could bring the Patriots into the state spotlight. That incentive helped Yorktown rise to the top of Class 6 last season when it finished undefeated and won Arlington County’s first state title.

Now the roles have changed.

“Everyone wants to beat Yorktown,” said Gregory Beer, who has coached the Patriots since 2006. “You see kids on other teams where they are excited when they do something positive against us now.”

The Patriots (3-2) finished around 0.500 most seasons, but they have improved over the last few years as lacrosse has grown in Arlington. Learning to play as a favorite took time for Yorktown players to get used to.

Yorktown started this season with two defeats, including one defeat to Robinson, the program the Patriots used to envy for its consistency.

“It’s different when you play with the goal on your back,” Beer said. “It’s something we’ve never experienced before.”

Yorktown have won three matches since then. Its strongest performance came on Thursday when the Patriots defeated Class 6 opponent Madison, 9-5.

“We were very patient on the attack,” Beer said. “When you play good teams, you find out how to play patiently. You do not rush against good teams, otherwise they will just bring it back on the field and score a lot of goals.”

Across the state, coaches are likely to preach the same advice when participating in their team’s matches against Yorktown.

Inexperienced teams will face plenty of fights, as defending Maryland 2A champion La Plata did while being shut out by Chopticon on Wednesday. But finding new role players early in the season is the key to getting back to the stage where the Warriors competed last year.

With a dive catch among his midfield highlights, junior Desmond Wood is becoming one of those playmakers for La Plata.

Wood is in his first season on the college team and is already proving why he has taken the plunge. La Plata fought defensively on the court on Wednesday, wasting a well-placed fight from novice Chris Coombs. But coach John Childers said the outfield was a source of pride after the 5-0 loss.

“We have so many new guys,” Childers said. “We were not sure what we were going to get out there, however [Wood] does a really good job of getting on the ball and he did it again today. ”

“… We expect that from him,” Childers said.

The league game for the Interstate Athletic Conference begins this week, and a veteran team from Landon gets its first chance to show what it got from a spring break trip to Williamsburg, Va., Which included 108 holes over four days.

The trip was especially exciting for the team’s three-year-old captain Charlie Bundy, who is committed to playing there at William & Mary next year.

As the Bears got ready for what coach Andy Luther expected would become a particularly competitive conference list, they could expect big contributions, Bundy as well as all-league junior John Bates and juniors Charlie Burr and Charlie Lynn. The top of the Bears’ list has led them to wins in two of their first three games this season.

In preparation for the Georgetown Prep, which Landon was to play on Tuesday, Luther talked a lot about Little Hoyas. “You can not be safe just because your first and second guy beat their first and second guy because their other guys can come back and play you out,” he said.

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