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Can Kellam slow the Cox juggernaut?

Coastal Conference girls tennis saved its best for last.

Cox and Kellam, two of the three undefeated teams remaining in South Hampton Roads (Nansemond River) will meet for league supremacy in the regular season finale Wednesday at Kellam in a match that features everything from A (Kellam's Amanda Yermal) to Z (Cox's Zoe Fraser).

In fact, the Yermal-Fraser showdown would be enough to sell tickets if it was the only match on the card. Most observers - at least the ones we tracked down - believe these are the two best public school players in South Hampton Roads. But which one's No. 1? Our sources were hesitant to pick a side. Even Fraser, while expressing confidence, fully understands the caliber of player she's up against.

"We've had tough matches in the past and it'll definitely be a tough match again," Fraser said.

Another compelling pairing will come at No. 2 singles where Cox's Olivia McNulty tangles with Kellam's Madison Boone.

In short, …

Are you playing for a Top-10 team (boys edition)

A couple of days ago we ranked the top girls tennis teams in South Hampton Roads. Now, it's the boys turn. Feel free to tear it apart.

By the way, we derive our information in large part from scores reported by coaches - and/or their significant others - on our Facebook page Game, Set, Match HR.  So make sure you let us know how your team did after every match. We can't do this without you.

1. Norfolk Academy
    - Two 5-4 losses to a fully-loaded Cape Henry squad are the only blemishes on the resume of the defending TCIS champion Bulldogs (12-2), who have otherwise run through a gauntlet of area and state powers - E.C. Glass, Collegiate (Richmond), Jamestown, Potomac School, St. Christopher's, among others. It's pretty clear this is now the best team in this area. The real question - is this the best team in the state?

2. Landstown
     - A competitive 6-3 loss to Norfolk Academy in a preseason scrimmage was the first indication these Eagles are legit. The latest came…

Are you playing for a Top-10 team (girls edition)?

Now that we're into the business end of the girls tennis season, here's our first crack at ranking the top 10 teams in South Hampton Roads. As always, your critiques aren't just welcome, they're highly encouraged via Twitter, Facebook or at mytopspinlob@gmail.com

1. Cox
     - Surprise! A season-opening 5-4 victory over Granby suggested that the Falcons may not be quite as head-and-shoulders ahead of the field as in years past. We're also eager to see what happens on May 10 when Cox travels to Kellam. For now, though, let's just say that tabbing Cox the favorite in girls tennis is an extremely sturdy limb to be out on.

2. Nansemond River
     - The Warriors won their first match 8-1. They've won the next nine - against victims including Grassfield, Hickory and Great Bridge -by an emphatic 9-0. By now, everyone knows about No. 1 Erin Bonney, a two-time conference singles champion. But the fact is that, so far this season, the Warriors have been better than t…

Cox-Landstown battle highlights Monday's boys tennis sked

What's on tap for Monday in boys tennis (weather permitting, of course):

Cox at Landstown, 3:30 p.m.

The winner here not only seizes control of the Coastal Conference but also gets our vote for best public school team in South Hampton Roads. The Ryan Charles-Bryon Toner showdown at No. 1 is the headliner, but given the depth of both squads there are intriguing matchups throughout the card. For example, Landstown's Christian Basnight and Cox's Cameron Fraser, worthy No. 1 players at many schools, are projected to meet at No. 4 singles in this one. The Falcons (6-0) eked out a 5-4 victory over Ocean Lakes Wednesday in their first of six conference matches. A day later, the Eagles (5-0) noted one of the most impressive wins by any area team this season by ousting TCIS power Norfolk Collegiate 7-2. Our sense is that Cox has yet to produce its best tennis. The Falcons better do that today.

Elsewhere in the Coastal...

Bayside at Ocean Lakes, 3:30 p.m.
Tallwood at First Colonial…

Monday's girls tennis schedule (April 24)

Monday's lineup of girls tennis matches (with rankings where applicable):
Coastal Conference
No. 9 Ocean Lakes at Bayside, 3:30 p.m. No. 4 First Colonial at Tallwood, 3:30 p.m. Landstown at No. 1 Cox, 3:30 p.m.
Atlantic Conference
No. 5 Princess Anne at Norview, 3:30 p.m. Salem at Green Run, 3:30 p.m. Indian River at Kempsville, 3:30 p.m. Maury at No. 6 Hickory, 5:30 p.m.
Non-conference
Deep Creek vs. Booker T. Washington at Northside Park, 5 p.m.
Girls tennis team rankings

Match report: Princess Anne girls 8, Maury 1

It's about time we got out to a girls match, right?

Princess Anne 8, Maury 1
The two-time defending Atlantic Conference champion Cavaliers took their first step toward consecutive title No. 3 Wednesday with a comprehensive performance against the solid Commodores in their league opener.

(Wo)man of the match
Michelle Yue, Princess Anne
Typically the queen of the three set match - Maury coach Steli Lascara said Yue had gone the distance in each of her previous matches this season - the sophomore punched out early for a change Wednesday with a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Zoe McMorris at No. 3 singles.

"I think I had more motivation to win in straight sets today," Yue said. "My placement was better, and I had more confidence in my shots. Confidence is a big thing with me."

Best against best
We only got about half of the closely contested heavyweight showdown were anticipating at No. 1 singles as Maury's Alissa Anderson and Princess Anne's Amy Liao - two players in o…

Match report - Norfolk Collegiate 8, Maury 1

Remarkably, these teams weren't originally scheduled to play this season. Credit Norfolk Collegiate coach James Moskowitz and Maury's Janita Burgess Hess for having the good sense to pair up these traditional Norfolk rivals and have at it. Can't imagine why this match isn't on the schedule every year.

Norfolk Collegiate 8, Maury 1
Don;t let the team score mislead you as the Commodores, easily a Top-5 public school team in this area, were competitive in virtually all the matches. But Norfolk Collegiate has been playing tough competition all season and were ready for this kind of challenge. The Commodores, meanwhile, barely needed to take off their warmups in winning their first six matches and were coming off spring break. In other words, the Oaks had a huge edge in match toughness, and it showed as they had the right answers everywhere except at No. 3 singles, where Maury's Ethan Willingham outdueled Trafton Addison 7-5, 6-3.

Man of the match - Dan Duan, Norfolk Coll…

NA's Kahatapitiya tops boys tennis rankings

What's a sport without rankings, right? So here we go with our debut of the Top 10 boys singles players in South Hampton Roads. Next week, we'll roll out the girls tennis rankings.

Opinions, pro or con, are always welcome. In fact, they're highly encouraged. So hit us up with your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter or at mytopspinlob@gmail.com

Oh, and coaches, don't forget those scores!

Boys tennis rankings
1. Romesh Kahatapitiya, Sr., Norfolk Academy
     - Always a beautiful ball striker, the Naval Academy-bound Kahatapitiya is gaining the tactical proficiency to match and has been playing like a flat-out beast of late. Tuesday's 6-3, 6-3 victory over Cape Henry's Alexey Lunin may not have been as decisive as that score suggests - we're told the match was littered with 50-50 games and quality exchanges. Still, three and three against Lunin is about as impressive a scoreline as you're going to see.

2. Alex Loope, Sr. Norfolk Collegiate
     - Loope caught ou…

Once again, talent abounds at Maury

So, who's the top boys singles player at Maury?

Evidently, it depends upon the day, as the Commodores have three well-qualified applicants for the job. Right now, the lineup features Harrison Gray has the top spot, followed by Ethan Willingham and Oliver Siegfried. But that order could shift as soon as Wednesday, when Siegfried challenges Willingham for the right to challenge Gray in the latest series of intra-squad battles.

"You eat what you kill," Maury coach Janita Burgess Hess said. "If you want that No. 1 court, you have to kick the other guy's butt."

Willingham, a senior and the son of tennis teaching pro Tony Willingham, was the No. 1 player virtually all of last season (Tony Willingham is currently the pro at the WestSide Athletic Club in Powells Point, N.C.). But Gray, a junior, closed the gap by developing a weapons-grade forehand.

In his only real test against a player  not from Maury this season, Gray dispatched Granby's talented Julius Gavi…

Match report: Cape Henry 6, Norfolk Collegiate 3

It's not always easy to carve out enough time to take in a high school match, but last Thursday (March 30) we made it out to Old Dominion University to check out two of the top teams in Hampton Roads, Cape Henry and Norfolk Collegiate. It's even harder to find the time to write up what we witnessed during men's and women's basketball's Final Four weekend (How 'bout dem Gamecocks!).

But now that the hoops have calmed down....

Cape Henry 6, Norfolk Collegiate 3
Key to victory - In freshmen fraternal twins Alexey and Boris Lunin and senior Andrew Roberts, the Dolphins have three dominant No. 1-caliber performers. The top two doubles teams of the Lunin brothers and Roberts and Flynn Somers are also formidable. So that's five team points - enough to lock down a victory - right there. To beat the Dolphins, a team must have the depth to sweep the matches at the bottom of the order and enough front-line talent to steal one or two points from Cape Henry's Big Thre…

The link ladder (April 3)

Tennis news from around the web....
As evidenced by its 5-4 loss to Norfolk Academy, perennially strong Jamestown is stacked again. The Virginia Gazette takes a look at this year's Eagles. Jamestown will host Cape Henry on April 21.
In a heavyweight girls tennis matchup Friday, 2016 5A state champion Deep Run held off Mills Godwin 6-3.
Cox provides a lot of info on its boys and girls team via this handy site. (Two words for other schools: hint, hint).
Previewing the Richmond-area teams courtesy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

If you like Roger Federer - and who doesn't, right? - GQ provides an interesting, in-depth look at the Swiss star during his recent return to championship form. 
Find a story or news nugget of interest? Send us the link at mytopspinlob@gmail.com