WIESBADEN, Germany - The two-time defending boys champion was dethroned Saturday and all new faces topped the brackets at the finals of the 2012 DODDS-Europe Tennis Championships.
Top-seeded Patch junior Ajdin Tahirovic came into Saturday’s championship match unbeaten in three years of DODDS play and looking for his third championship in as many tries. SHAPE sophomore Dimitris Stavropoulos, seeded second, had revenge on his mind after dropping last year’s championship match.
In a match that featured plenty of highlight reel shots from both sides of the net, it was the fist-pumping Spartan that was celebrating at the end, overcoming a first set defeat to upset his rival from Patch, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
“I was mad at myself when I lost the first set,” Stavropoulos said.
The SHAPE sophomore was able to get his serve under control and used his power-filled stroke to get back into the match.
In the decisive third set, Tahirovic was in the driver’s seat after breaking Stavropoulos’ serve to take a 2-0 lead. But Stavropoulos didn’t get deterred and broke Tahirovic twice soon after.
“I came here to win and I won,” said Stavropoulos, who took advantage of two unforced errors in the final game to secure the upset.
Tahirovic, whose serve was off its usual pace most of the match, said he needs to be more focused and consistent.
“He just had a little more luck; at the end, he was a better player today,” Tahirovic said.
The girls singles championship game was also a nail-biter, but this time a Patch Panther came out on top.
Top-seeded Eugenia Srodowski of Patch held off Alexandria Bellas, the determined and fundamentally solid AFNORTH freshman, 1-6, 6-3, 7-5, in a match highlighted by long volleys and hard-fought points.
The first set put the undefeated Srodowski in a position she’s not used to, coming from behind.
But she was undaunted, using a quick serve and gazelle-like ability to cover the whole court to win the next two sets.
“I knew I could do it once I won the second set; it was a big confidence booster,” Srodowski said. “I’m really proud of myself.”
The Lions freshman said she’s not hanging her head about a silver medal, saying she’s happy to have gotten as far as she has.
The quickest championship match was in boys doubles, where Ramstein’s second-seeded duo of Aryan Von Eicken and Lee DeBose made quick work of Jack Kolodziejski and Wylder Raney, the No. 1 seed from Heidelberg, 6-2, 6-1.
Von Eicken was half of the Royals duo – along with then teammate Forrest Kamperman – who lost last year’s doubles championship in a heartbreaking loss for the Royals.
“We’re trying to make up for that last year and have fun my senior year,” Von Eicken said.
Fun is something the pair strives for, telling jokes and keeping each other relaxed during matches. DeBose’s backhand and Von Eicken’s forehand, volley and serve also have a lot to do with their success.
The girls doubles team of Marina Fortun and Christine Young provided Patch its second championship with a 7-6 (9-7), 1-6, 6-4, victory over Sydney Townsend and Jennifer DeBose, the No. 2 seeded team from Ramstein.
After falling down quickly in the third set, things weren’t looking good for the Panthers.
“When we were down 1-4, I told Christine, it’s our last game, let’s just enjoy it,” Fortun said.
Those words may have been enough to take the pressure off and allow the Patch girls to play the game their way, fighting back for the win.
Patch took the Division I team title, followed by Ramstein and International School of Brussels. SHAPE stood atop the D-II team standings and Alconbury captured the D-III crown.