A season-ending knee injury to Maury tennis star Mya Byrd spoiled a Friday that yielded a couple of VHSL doubles championships to Hampton Roads girls as well as an opportunity for four competitors from the 757 to earn singles crowns Saturday.
Byrd, who won Class 5 championships as a freshman and junior and has been all but untouchable in high school singles, was pursuing her third crown and was well on her way. She was leading 6-2, 1-0 against Bella De Luise of Independence High on a morning of semifinals at Huntington Park when disaster struck.
“She served and her knee just gave out,” her father, Melendez Byrd, a Norfolk State professor, said.
The match stopped so Byrd could be treated, though there was audible disagreement about what the protocols should be. About 10 minutes later, she tried to play again, but could barely move. She limped to the net and tapped rackets with De Luise, indicating the match was over.
It was a stunning end to one of the best high school tennis careers in Hampton Roads history. Byrd has signed to play for nationally ranked Old Dominion, but it’s unclear when she could get up to speed for that.
After singles, Byrd was scheduled to play in the doubles final with Addison Felts. Since they had won a semifinal Thursday, VHSL rules prevented the Commodores from substituting another player.
Maury coach Jody Sanzo said afterward, “I’m not letting her out there. She’s got too much of a future to go out there and go hurt herself worse.”
Thus, Alex Sanda and Melissa Young of First Colonial took the title, but not the way they’d want. After winning four matches in the Region A bracket to earn their semifinal spot, they never hit a ball at state. Their scheduled semifinal opponents Thursday from J.R. Tucker withdrew because of illness, and Byrd’s injury prevented an all-757 championship clash.
The area’s other girls doubles title was much more satisfying for the players. Tabb’s Christina Baxter won a share of Class 3 honors for the second year in a row, joining Valentina Crespo-Berker.
Their 6-1, 6-2 triumph at Virginia Tech came against Kirby Westerfield and Naadia Rashid of Maggie Walker, the school that has ousted the Tigers from postseason team play the past two years. Baxter won last year’s doubles with then-senior Emily Beckner and will have a chance at the singles trophy Saturday in Blacksburg, thanks to her 6-0, 6-0 semifinal victory Friday over Liberty Christian’s Catherine Mowry.
Also at Virginia Tech, Poquoson’s Luke Gibson earned a 7-5, 6-1 semifinal over Alleghany’s Baron Leitch and will play a Saturday final.
Meanwhile, in Newport News, Princess Anne’s Harrison Lee (in boys Class 5) and Great Bridge’s Kayla Kennedy (in girls Class 4) earned berths in Saturday’s 10 a.m. singles finals.
Lee outsteadied Douglas Freeman’s Dylan Chou 6-1, 6-1, earning a berth against Riverbend’s Jack Wexler.
Kennedy won the last four points of the first-set tiebreaker and surged to a 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 victory over Broad Run’s Isabella Rotaru.
“Probably the tiebreaker” was the match’s key, Kennedy said. “In the second set, I was more consistent. In the first set, I was going for too much, and her topspin to my backhand got me in trouble.”
She’ll face a more familiar foe, Blacksburg’s Kirsten Woods, in an all-freshman championship match.
“She’s really good too,” Kennedy said of Woods, the daughter of Virginia Tech women’s tennis coach Terry Ann Zawacki-Holdren.
Region A singles champs Vincent Yi of Ocean Lakes, Rainer Christiansen of Grafton and Zach Beckner of Tabb lost singles semis in boys Classes 6, 4 and 3, respectively, while Sanda fell in a girls Class 5 semi.
Class 6: Matthew Staton (Colgan) d. Lucas Pak (Chantilly) by walkover/illness; Vincent Truong (W.T. Woodson) d. Vincent Yi (Ocean Lakes) 6-0, 6-0.
Class 5: Jack Wexler (Riverbend) d. Alex Seretis (Maury) 6-3, 6-1; Harrison Lee (Princess Anne) d. Dylan Chou (Douglas Freeman) 6-1, 6-1.
Class 4: Jacob Pfab (Powhatan) d. Spencer Knight (E.C. Glass) 6-1, 6-4; Sid Dabhade (Lightridge) d. Rainer Christiansen (Grafton) 7-6 (7-4), 6-2.
Class 3: Luca Bonfigli (Monticello) d. Zach Beckner (Tabb) 6-2, 6-0.
Class 2: Luke Gibson (Poquoson) d. Baron Leitch (Alleghany) 7-5, 6-1.
Class 6: Simone Bergeron (Madison) d. Maya Bravo (Patriot) 6-0, 6-0; Kaitlyn Nguyen (South County) d. Hayley Glen (Cosby) 6-1, 6-3.
Class 5: Bella De Luise (Independence) d. Mya Byrd (Maury) 2-6, 0-1, retired/injury; Sia Chaudry (Clover Hill) d. Alex Sanda (First Colonial) 6-0, 6-1.
Class 4: Kirsten Woods (Blacksburg) d. Miranda McCoy (Eastern View) 6-0, 6-0; Kayla Kennedy (Great Bridge) d. Isabella Rotaru (Broad Run) 7-6 (7-5), 6-1.
Class 3: Christina Baxter (Tabb) d. Catherine Mowry (Liberty Christian) 6-0, 6-0.
Class 6: Vincent Truong-Ansh Pathapadu (W.T. Woodson) d. Matthew Staton-Rebhi Villasmil Rodriguez (Colgan) 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Class 5: Dylan Chou-Daniel Lim (Douglas Freeman) d. Jack Wexler-Chase Catullo (Riverbend) 6-4, 6-2.
Class 4: Tobin Yates-Brader Eby (Western Albemarle) d. Sid Dabhade-Abhinav Maddi (Lightridge) 6-2, 6-2.
Class 6: Kaitlyn Nguyen-Maya Wilson (South County) d. Vanessa Popescu-Michelle Martinkov (McLean) 6-1, 7-6 (7-0).
Class 5: Alex Sanda-Melissa Young (First Colonial) d. Mya Byrd-Addison Felts (Maury) by walkover/injury.
Class 4: Kirsten Woods-Raya Freeborn (Blacksburg) d. Anya Ambarish-Tarini Panidepu (Rock Ridge) 6-1, 6-3.
Class 3: Christina Baxter - Valentina Crespo-Berker (Tabb) d. Kirby Westerfield-Naadia Rashid (Maggie Walker) 6-1, 6-2.