Westbrook faced a tall challenge when they ventured to Thornton Academy on Thursday, June 2, and in the end, the eighth-ranked Blazes simply couldn’t overcome the first-place Trojans, falling 5-0 and exiting the tournament.

On the singles side of the action, Westbrooker Garett Sanders succumbed to TA’s Dariy Vykhodstsev, 6-0, 6-0. That score perhaps belies the quality of the play, however.

“Garett played much better this time around against TA’s top player,” said Westbrook head coach Sam Johnson. “His forehand wasn’t as sharp as he would have liked, but his backhand looked as good as it has all season.”

Moreover, it’s worth noting, Vykhodstsev, a prodigiously talented freshman, is the No. 2 player in the State.

The Blazes’ No. 2 man, Danny Porell likewise fell 6-0, 6-0 to his Thornton opponent, Viktor Schwarz. 

Johnson summed up Porell’s performance nicely. “Danny, like he has all season for us, fought each and every point,” he said. 

Dylan Ho fell to Jack Xiao, 6-1, 6-1. “Dylan’s performance against Jack Xiao was very encouraging,” said Johnson. “Xiao is one of the top players in the state, and for Dylan to be able to win a couple of games is huge.”

On the doubles courts, Westbrookers Elijah Doucette and Adam Blackmore lost 6-2, 6-4 to Trojans Asher Thompson and Adam Lovejoy. In only their second competitive match side-by-side, Doucette and Blackmore remained solid.

“Elijah and Adam played well together,” said Johnson. “For them to be able to go out there and compete at a high level against one of the best teams in the states is pretty impressive.” 

Finally, Jameson Waldron and Chris LaRose fell 6-2, 6-0 to Simon Beliveau and Jackson Dohse. “Jameson and Chris came out strong, but were ultimately overmatched,” said Johnson. 

The Blazes, who entered the season with very basic goal of winning more than one match, wildly exceeded their own aspirations to reach the playoffs. They retire for the season at 7-7.

“What is most encouraging about this group,” said Johnson, “is that just minutes after we had been eliminated from the playoffs, while we were waiting for the bus to bring us back to Westbrook, we had guys talking about next season … Talking about competing for spots. The seniors are proud of what we were able to accomplish this year, and the underclassmen are excited to build on it.”

“We are a young team,” Johnson said, looking ahead to next year. “Four of seven players from the TA match [will return], and five of eight varsity players [will] … We have a ton of juniors who are anxious to get better over the summer. There is also a bit of a buzz around the school: I’ve overheard some kids say, ‘I’m going to play tennis next year.’ So it’s exciting. We’ve had a lot of fun this season and we’ve won a little bit, too.

“We are all looking forward to the off-season. Most of our guys are already at the courts all the time, playing and working on different aspects of their game … Guys understand that there are only seven varsity spots and with five players with significant [experience] already under their belt, spots are limited. If guys want legitimate playing time they are going to have to work for it. 

“Our seniors Danny, Elijah, Adam, and even Josh Minor and Alexander Herbert, who came up and played a varsity doubles match at one point this season, were great leaders for us and we will miss all of those guys. They set the bar high.”

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Westbrooker Garett Sanders volleys in his match at TA on Thursday last.

Westbrook’s Adam Blackmore lunges for a return.

Blazes’ doubles-man Elijah Doucette and his partner Adam Blackmore put up a good fight at TA last Thursday, but ultimately fell.

Dylan Ho and Co. faced an uphill climb at TA on Thursday, June 2, and ultimately succumbed. But the team far surpassed their aspirations for the season, finishing 7-7 in the second round of the playoffs after setting a goal of simply winning more than one match.

Danny Porell powers a return in his bout at TA on Thursday.

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