Blue Valley Northwest senior Yash Mylavarapu let out a yell and did a funky little dance after winning match point. Four years of hard work, he was free to celebrate however he wanted in becoming the state singles champion in Kansas Class 6A boys tennis.
Mylavarapu performed with spirit and focus throughout the two-day tournament, and beat Olathe Northwest freshman Brett Seaton 6-1, 6-1 in the final at the College Boulevard Activity Center in Olathe on Saturday afternoon.
Blue Valley West won the team title, foiling BV Northwest’s attempt to win three straight championships. BV West accumulated enough points (42) to clinch first place after preliminary rounds Friday. BV Northwest (29) finished second, and Olathe Northwest (22) edged Shawnee-Mission East for third on a percentage tiebreaker. Lawrence Free State and Blue Valley tied for fifth.
BV West’s top performers were sophomore doubles partners Bruno Serra and Rata Serra, twin transfers from Brazil who beat another set of BV West brothers, senior Ryan Moody and sophomore Nick Moody, 6-3, 6-1 in the final.
A top seed after getting through regionals, Mylavarapu said his sparkling 24-2 record was the result of him not worrying about the results, but instead concentrating on the process.
“I decided not to focus on the winning aspect of it all, and I tried to improve my flaws, so that I’d be able to perform my best,” Mylavarapu said. “That came to fruition.”
BV Northwest coach Ted Fabiano got a little teary saying Mylavarapu “showed his best tennis” in the final, which was the culmination of a talented player trying to better himself.
“The book on him was always, you know, ‘No backhand. Inconsistent. Flashy, but you can ride it out.’ All of those things,” Fabiano said. “He led with the backhand primarily in that second set.”
Also a top seed, Seaton beat SM East’s Billy Louiselle in the semis to reach the final and finished with a 28-3 record on the season.
“He wanted it more than I did,” Seaton said of Mylavarapu. “The results showed it. It’s all him.”
Mylavarapu considered his own play as a freshman and said Seaton impressed him — a lot.
“I sure as (heck) know he’s going to destroy me someday,” he said. “I wasn’t this good at his age. He has a really good future ahead of him. And I expect to come back from college next year hearing, ‘Brett Seaton: state champ.’”
BV West did not fall short this time after accomplishing everything it wanted last season short of state title, BV West coach Traci Rhodes said.
Knowing they had the title clinched the day before allowed BV West to enjoy the individual efforts of players such as Brad Mittleman, who finished third in singles after falling to Mylavarapu in the semis and beating Louiselle in the consolation bracket. Mittleman volunteered for No. 1 singles after two-time state champ Max Kurzban elected not to play as a senior before joining his college team at Virginia.
“That took a lot of stress and pressure off us to see Bradley step up,” said Rhodes, who noted that Mittleman also was the only player at state to beat Mylavarapu, Seaton and Louiselle over the course of the season.
Rhodes also said she was proud of the effort the Moodys made in two matches. In the semis, they rallied to beat BV Northwest’s Alex Downing and Ankush Bhat after getting down 0-5 in the best-of-three second set. In the finals, “they played the Serras closer than anyone has,” Rhodes said.
The Serras finished with a 16-0 record in their first season in the United States. The finals match was difficult mentally, both said, because of their familiarity with the opponent.
“Both sides know each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Bruno said. “And it’s hard to play friends.”
Bishop Miege’s Grier wins in 4A
Bishop Miege senior Will Grier won’t soon forget his high school graduation day. Two hours before he was set to walk across a stage to receive his diploma, he battled from behind to win the Kansas Class 4A singles championship.
Grier defeated Wichita Collegiate’s Lakelin Conrad 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 in the finals match at Harmon Park in Prairie Village.
Grier won the doubles championship last year.
“He had been in the spot before, so we talked about some adjustments (after the first set), and he just executed from there,” Miege coach Andrew Groene said. “He just changed the mental part of his game drastically this year, skyrocketing past where I expected him to be.”
In Kansas Class 3A-2A-1A in Garden City, Kansas City Christian’s duo of Jackson Vander Ark and Mitchell Paul followed a similar path to their title — a comeback.
After losing the first set, they dropped only two games over the remainder of the championship match, winning 6-7, 6-2, 6-0.
In Class 5A in Topeka, Mill Valley’s tandem of Andrew Bock and Alec Bergeron placed third.