They called it the greatest tennis match in years.
Entering the Maryland high school tennis championships, junior singles player Joseph Brailovsky had crushed every opponent who he faced and proven that last year’s state title was no fluke. But in the final round of the mens’ singles tournament, Brailovsky was matched up against a worthy adversary, Jake Fishkin from out-of-county Pikesville. The clash of the two tennis titans not only lived up to, but exceeded expectations, and when the dust had cleared, Brailovsky was crowned the Maryland state champion.
Though Brailovsky entered the state tournament as the reigning champion, he encountered his toughest challenge of the season when he was matched against Fishkin, who had beaten him in the past. Unfazed, Brailovsky entered the match confident and on the attack.
“My strategy was to keep my energy up and keep pressing throughout the match,” Brailovsky said.
The strategy allowed Brailovsky to win a tightly contested first set 6-4 and put him one set away from successfully defending his title. Despite Brailovsky’s best efforts, Fishkin was able to push the second set to a 6-6 tie, forcing a tiebreaker. With the state title on the line, Brailovsky scored the required seven points to win the tiebreaker, securing his second consecutive state title.
“It feels great,” Brailovsky said about taking home another state title. “Wootton already has so many champions- it feels awesome to be on that list. [Winning] was a huge relief. That match was never totally in my control and it was extremely physical so it felt great to finish.”
In the brightest stage of the season, Brailovsky played at his absolute best. “Brailovsky played freakin’ awesome,” coach Fevronia Cresham said. “He pulled out all the tools. He played so smart. He stayed focused because in tennis, momentum can shift. It was awesome tennis.”
In addition to Brailovsky’s triumph, the Patriots placed three other athletes: senior Miranda Deng finished second in the girls’ singles and the mixed doubles duo of seniors Ben Fellman and Gabriella Glueck won the consolation match to finish third. Though Deng fell in two sets in the final round of the girls’ singles tournament and was unable to win her fourth title in four years, the match capped off one of the most successful four-year runs by any athlete in school history.
Both the boys’ and girls’ teams will look different next year with seniors leaving both teams and an influx of incoming freshmen arriving soon. Even with their departures, the tennis teams will enter the next seasons as the teams to beat in the county championships thanks to their unrivaled depth and young talent. Brailovsky will be back and aiming for his third state title next spring.
With an undefeated regular season, county championship title and singles state champion on its résumé, this year’s boys tennis team proved this spring to be one of the greatest this school has ever seen.