Langley girls, Oakton boys capture Virginia Class 6 tennis titles

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The Langley girls’ tennis team was so confident about its chances to win the Virginia Class 6 title Thursday that the Saxons handed out Ring Pops the night before in anticipation of receiving their championship rings.

The Saxons had reason to be confident after a semifinal win over McLean on Monday. On Thursday at Huntington Park in Newport News, their confidence was rewarded with a 5-1 win over Cosby. Oakton captured its second consecutive boys’ title, beating Cosby, 5-0.

After Langley (16-2) lost to McLean in the regional tournament, getting past the Highlanders in the semis was the boost it needed.

“You can play two ways: You can play to win, or you can play to not lose,” Coach Jan Dabroski said. “If you play not to lose, any time you run across a problem, all it does is make it harder to win because your mind-set is like, ‘I can’t try anything new, I can’t be brave, I can’t be innovative.’ As opposed to, ‘I’m going to try everything I can because I want to win.’ ”

Dabroski tweaked her lineup to promote that mind-set, pairing up two left-handed players, Hala Gilbert and Lauren Borror, for No. 3 doubles. The combination paid off with a win that was so decisive that Gilbert and Borror didn’t even have time to finish their match.

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“I was in the middle of doubles when Coach ran out and started screaming,” Gilbert said. “She was like, ‘We won! We won! We did it!’ And we dropped our rackets and ran to Thalia [Eid], who was the match that finished it.”

On the boys’ side, Oakton overcame the late absence of No. 1 singles player Vinh Tran, whose back locked up while warming up. After Tran’s grueling slate of matches earlier in the week, the injury was so severe that he had to sub out of his match. But his faith in his teammates never wavered.

“It really hurt. I couldn’t walk at one point,” Tran said. “With states, we played top-tier teams from Northern Virginia, and I think that just took a toll on me. … It honestly made me feel relieved that I was able to trust my team and just wait for them to win, and I’m happy for the guys that they were able to do that without me.”

Oakton relied on its depth throughout the lineup and strong leadership from No. 2 Shawn Lisann and No. 6 Myles Olsen to put the wraps on a 20-0 season.

“I just had faith in my teammates and myself, because the whole year we’ve been doing that, just persevering,” Lisann said. “Having that confidence and belief, and knowing that [the team] had the same for you, was what we needed to win.”

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