Western Albemarle’s boys tennis team prides itself on being loose. But Simon Rader may have taken things a little too far at breakfast before the Warriors took on York in the Class 3 state final.
“I think he was a little too loose, he was supposed to be eating oatmeal,” said Western’s Gavin Seagraves. “Maybe he was a little too loose, but it seemed to work.”
Rader mistook a container of sausage gravy for oatmeal and ate an entire bowl of gravy, leaving Western’s No. 6 a little frustrated with breakfast. But Rader shook off any gravy-related impact and rolled 6-1, 6-0 to clinch the Warriors’ second-straight state title, setting off a long-awaited celebration that ended the Warriors’ march to a state championship. It’s the first time in Western’s storied boys tennis history that the Warriors have swept the team, singles and doubles championships.
“They work every day, they put in such tremendous effort,” said Western coach Seth Heller. “I know sometimes they make it look easy, but all the work they put in is what makes it easy.”
The Warriors started the championship match with No. 1 through No. 4 singles on the court and in succession, Seagraves won at No. 1 and Alex Ix won at No. 2, with Seagraves rolling 6-0, 6-0 and Ix picking up a 6-1, 6-0 win. Jack Tribble then provided the third win with a 6-3, 6-0 win at No. 4. Shortly after that, Daniel Thomas made it 4-0 with a 6-2, 6-1 win in what was an emotional match for the senior.
“I was very, very jittery and I’m not someone who usually gets nervous,” Thomas said. “When it came down to that last game at 40-love I teared up a little bit knowing that would be the last point I would ever play in a Western jersey.”
That left Nicholas Hagspiel and Rader to battle it out at No. 5 and No. 6 singles to see who could close the door on York. The two matches were running neck and neck before Rader finished his off and clinched the championship, despite the gravy debacle
“The sign said oatmeal and I thought it was weird tasting, but I didn’t recognize it was gravy,” Rader said. “It created a couple of jokes around the team.”
The gravy incident factored heavily into the usual chorus of chants from Western’s reserves, who’ve made their presence felt at matches with timely comments and reactions to well-played shots by Western players. Saturday’s interjections included ‘Tough gravy on those biscuits’ among more usual fare from that group like ‘Gavin, there are children here,’ ‘Dungeon troll strikes again’ and ‘Please shower, that’s dirty Alex.’
“You can hear how these guys support each other,” Heller said.
Western’s march to the title began with the addition of Seagraves at No. 1 singles, bolstering an already loaded roster that returned five of the top six from the 2017 state championship team. Inserting Seagraves, who won the state Class 3 singles title and paired with Ix to win the doubles title (also in dominant fashion with straight set victories in both tournaments), at No. 1 transformed a formidable team into a buzzsaw, capable of knocking opponents in the region and state tournaments off the court in under an hour.
Because of Saturday’s court situation, it took longer than the typical hour that Western has been reaching like clockwork to sew up the match and the title, but Western still did it in efficient, dominant fashion, winning a title in much the same way they’ve done all season — a sweep.
“Winning it all with this team, this coach, it’s a dream come true,” Thomas said. “I wish we could keep it going, I wish there was a national tournament.”
Perhaps in that mythical tournament, Western could find an opponent that would, at the very least, push them to doubles.
Western Albemarle 5, York 0
- Gavin Seagraves (Western) def. Rishit Patel 6-0, 6-0
- Alex Ix (WA) 6-1, 6-0 Robert Novak, 6-1, 6-0
- Daniel Thomas (WA) def. 6-2, 6-1 Aryan Prabhudesai 6-2, 6-1
- Jack Tribble (WA) def. Alex Arnette 6-3, 6-0
- Nicholas Hagspeil (WA) versus Nathan Valerio DNF
- Simon Rader (WA) def. Cameron Wainwright 6-1, 6-0