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Jessica Ortega of Naples serves during the finals of the DODDS-Europe Mediterranean tennis championships at Maniago, Italy, on Saturday. She and partner Leila Rajazi won in straight sets to capture the school’s first tennis title in several years.

Jessica Ortega of Naples serves during the finals of the DODDS-Europe Mediterranean tennis championships at Maniago, Italy, on Saturday. She and partner Leila Rajazi won in straight sets to capture the school’s first tennis title in several years. (Kent Harris / S&S)

Jessica Ortega of Naples serves during the finals of the DODDS-Europe Mediterranean tennis championships at Maniago, Italy, on Saturday. She and partner Leila Rajazi won in straight sets to capture the school’s first tennis title in several years.

Jessica Ortega of Naples serves during the finals of the DODDS-Europe Mediterranean tennis championships at Maniago, Italy, on Saturday. She and partner Leila Rajazi won in straight sets to capture the school’s first tennis title in several years. (Kent Harris / S&S)

Kent Harris / S&S Naples’ Leila Rajazi watches teammate Jessica Ortega hit a return Saturday during the girls doubles finals of the DODDS-Europe Mediterranean tennis championships in Maniago, Italy.

Kent Harris / S&S Naples’ Leila Rajazi watches teammate Jessica Ortega hit a return Saturday during the girls doubles finals of the DODDS-Europe Mediterranean tennis championships in Maniago, Italy. (Kent Harris / S&S)

MANIAGO, Italy — There wasn’t much doubt about who fielded the best boys tennis team in the DODDS-Europe Mediterranean tennis championships.

And there was even less doubt who the best female player was.

The American Overseas School of Rome won the boys singles and doubles titles Saturday, and Milan’s Shivani Saxena cruised to her second straight girls title without dropping a game in the finals.

Naples’ Jessica Ortega and Leila Rajazi teamed to win the school’s first doubles title in several years, holding off Aviano’s Torii Leon and Angela Connor 6-1, 6-3 in the championship.

The pair went undefeated this season and their doubles record at Naples will remain perfect. Ortega, a freshman, will leave Naples after the school year, and Rajazi is a senior.

What was their secret for success?

“Communication,” Rajazi said. “We always talk to each other and keep each other up.”

Not that there was a lot to get down about. The two were extremely effective at the net, crushing the ball each time Aviano floated a weak return within reach.

The two Naples players are the team’s strongest players, but decided to concentrate on doubles rather than singles this year.

“We are better together,” Ortega said.

“And we thought we had a good chance of winning (doubles),” Rajazi said.

Much better than beating Saxena in singles.

The junior finished second in DODDS’ European championship tournament last year, falling in the title game. That tournament came in her offseason, because high school tennis in Italy is played in the spring, while the sport takes place in the fall in the rest of DODDS-Europe.

Saxena didn’t lose a set all season and didn’t lose a game to AOSR’s Maria Lavia in the finals.

Born in New Jersey, Saxena has lived in Milan for most of her life.

“I’ve been playing tennis for a long time,” she said, adding she still thinks she has some areas she can improve in. “I’m not consistent sometimes. I get too confident, maybe.”

AOSR’s Roy Forberg knows the feeling. Forberg didn’t lose a game all year until the tournament this week. And the defending champion almost matched Saxena’s accomplishment in the finals, defeating Milan’s Aaron Crosby 6-0, 6-1.

“It’s always nice to have another trophy,” said the senior, who is planning to either play tennis for a club team in Spain next year or attend college in London.

His teammates, Jacob Kopf and Josh Kneeland, completed the AOSR sweep by defeating Incirlik’s Kris Roeske and Bryn Roehe 6-1, 6-3 in the doubles finals.

Mediterranean tennis championships

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — Championship results from the Mediterranean Regional tennis Friday and Saturday:

Semifinals

Boys

Singles

Roy Forberg (American Overseas School of Rome) def. Brendan O’Callaghan 6-2, 6-0; Aaron Crosby (Milan) def. Seth Meitzner (Aviano) 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-4).

Doubles

Jacob Kopf and Geoff Kneeland (AOSR) def. Joel Meade and Kenny Percy (Avi) 6-1, 6-0; Kris Roeske and Bryan Roche (Incirlik) def. Adam Fye and J.R. Prejusa (Naples) 6-2, 7-5.

Girls

Singles

Maria Lavia (AOSR) def. Elena Clak (Sigonella) 7-6 (7-2), 6-2; Shavia Saxena (Milan) def. Jasco Boutwell (Vicenza) 6-0, 6-0,

Doubles

Jessica Ortega and Leila Rajazi (Napl) def. Danique Smits and Valeria d’Alterio (AOSR) 4-6, 7-6 (tiebreaker unavailable), 6-2; Torii Leon and Angela Connor (Avi) def. Natashia Sanchez and Olena Prokhorova (Ankara) 6-2, 6-0.

Finals

Boys

Forberg (AOSR) def. Crosby (Milan), 6-0, 6-1.

Kopf and Kneeland (AOSR) def. Roeske and Roehe (Ink), 6-1, 6-3

Girls

Shivani Saxena (Milan) def. Lavia (AOSR) 6-0, 6-0.

Ortega and Rajazi (Napl) def. Leon and Connor (Avi) 6-1, 6-3

author picture
Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.

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