Colgan sophomore Matthew Staton repeats as Class 6 tennis champion

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When Colgan’s Matthew Staton won the Virginia Class 6 singles title as a freshman last year, he knew it would be an even greater challenge to defend his spot on top.

Facing increased competition as programs rebooted once pandemic restrictions were lifted, Staton had to raise his game for his sophomore season. On Saturday, he made it clear 2021 was no fluke: Staton again donned the gold medal after the singles finals at Huntington Park in Newport News, where he swept W.T. Woodson senior Vincent Truong, 6-0, 6-2.

“I think the biggest challenge that I overcame was trying to get myself back up from last year and kind of keep the momentum going even after winning states last year,” Staton said. “I had to really lock in again, even after a lot of congratulations, a lot of happy moments, getting back into it and being like, ‘Okay, here we go again. … It’s only the beginning.’ ”

The doubles finals on Friday also featured Staton versus Truong, but in that match, Truong and his partner, Ansh Pathapadu, came out on top. It was a drawn-out battle, ending 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, but Staton said the loss motivated him to win the singles title, redeeming himself and doubles partner Rebhi Villasmil.

Staton was happy to see his young school’s tennis program continue to expand this season, particularly now that high school sports were mostly back to normal.

“It was kind of like a rebirth moment for high school tennis, especially compared to the two years before,” Staton said. “So it was really great to see, especially for me. Since I’m a sophomore, I haven’t been able to experience something like this before until now.”

The Class 6 girls’ finals were a story of nerves and revenge.

Madison junior Simone Bergeron knew she’d be in for a tough match against South County’s Kaitlin Nguyen, who beat Bergeron in the semifinals last year and just won this year’s doubles tournament with teammate Maya Wilson.

After losing the first few points during Saturday’s rematch, Bergeron had to mentally reset.

“I went down in the beginning just because of how nervous I was,” said Bergeron, who pulled it together in plenty of time to win, 6-4, 6-2. “But I took a couple of deep breaths before starting the next game, and I just focused more on every shot rather than the overall outcome of the match. … So it was super satisfying to win at the end. I was super happy, especially getting her back after the last one.”

In the Class 5 singles final, Bella De Luise of Independence defeated Sia Chaudry of Clover Hill, 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (8-6), in a match that was as close as a two-setter can be.

“It was a super tight match,” De Luise said. “I just wanted to stay confident and stay aggressive in my game because I didn’t really want to give her a ball she could take advantage of. … It’s just an honor to be able to be in states and play against some really good opponents.”

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