Williamsport’s Toms continues postseason surge

Editor’s note: This story will be updated with results from 3A West Region I, including North Hagerstown and South Hagerstown.

BOONSBORO – Two weeks ago, Williamsport sophomore Lauren Toms sported a 6-4 record at No. 1 singles and was otherwise a relatively under-the-radar player.

Today, she’s the Washington County and 1A West Region II girls singles champion.

One week after rallying from a set down to stun 2021 Herald-Mail county player of the year Kayda Shives of Clear Spring in a match tiebreaker for the county crown, Toms did it again in Friday’s region final, coming back to defeat Brunswick’s Keira McDonald 1 -6, 6-3, 10-8 and earn a spot in next week’s state tournament.

“My talent is there, but what made me win these matches was my mental standpoint,” said Toms (11-4). “Take one point at a time, hit one ball at a time, make her hit one more ball… and fight until the end. If you believe you can win any point, good things can happen. “

Clear Spring's Kayda Shives hits a backhand during the 1A West Region II mixed doubles final at Boonsboro on May 20. Shives teamed with Andrew Keller to defeat Brunswick's Zoe Razunguzwa and Ben Kennedy, 6-0, 6-1, to earn a state tournament berth .

McDonald hit more powerful shots than Toms throughout the region final, but Toms kept hustling to get balls back and force McDonald to hit extra shots, and it paid off at the end of a match that lasted nearly two hours.

It was similar to Toms’ 2-6, 6-2, 10-7 victory over Shives for the county title.

“I walked into that match (last week) playing a girl who was the county favorite,” Toms said. “Winning that gave me a boost of confidence.”

Shives – who earned a state tournament spot last year as the county and region girls singles champion – is heading back to states as a region mixed doubles winner with Andrew Keller. The Clear Spring seniors rolled past Brunswick’s Zoe Razunguzwa and Ben Kennedy 6-0, 6-1 in the final, and dropped just five games over their three matches.

Clear Spring's Andrew Keller returns a serve during the 1A West Region II mixed doubles final at Boonsboro on May 20. Keller and teammate Kayda Shives defeated Brunswick's Zoe Razunguzwa and Ben Kennedy, 6-0, 6-1.

“It’s so much more exciting this year,” Shives said. “I have a partner who’s holding me accountable, and it’s working good.”

Shives went 14-2 at No. 1 girls singles and Keller was 9-6 at No. 1 boys singles this season for the Blazers.

“This is something we’ve been talking about doing for a long time,” Keller said about teaming up in mixed doubles, which is only played in county, region and state tournaments. “We’ve been playing together for four years. We know what we like, what we don’t like and what works. “

Williamsport's Chelsea Kreps, right, hits a serve as teammate Grace Caudell stands ready at the net during the 1A West Region II girls doubles final at Boonsboro on May 20. Kreps and Caudell defeated Boonsboro's Rylee Waters and Breann Reed, 2-6, 6- 1, 10-8, to earn a state tournament berth.

In an all-Washington County battle, Williamsport’s Chelsea Kreps and Grace Caudell (12-5) rallied after losing the first set to defeat Boonsboro’s Rylee Waters and Breann Reed (9-9) for the region girls doubles title, 2-6, 6 -1, 10-8, and earn their spot at states.

“We lost the first set and our coach (Donald Brown) gave us a pep talk to get us going,” Kreps said.

Kreps and Caudell also had to win a match tiebreaker to get out of Thursday’s quarterfinals, edging Smithsburg’s Madilyn Luebehusen and Ashley Eichelberger 7-6 (3), 4-6, 10-8.

Boonsboro's Rylee Waters, right, hits a backhand as teammate Breann Reed watches during the 1A West Region II girls doubles final at Boonsboro on May 20.

“I think both of our matches yesterday went over two hours,” Kreps said. “We just pushed through it.”

“The big thing (after the first set) was pretending that we were starting over, that it was a whole new game,” Caudell said. “It was more of a mental change, and that was a big key, having the midset that we were going to win rather than playing scared.”

Boonsboro freshman Hunter Liao (20-0) added the region boys singles title to his county crown, and has not dropped a game in any of his six tournament matches – all 6-0, 6-0 victories. Brunswick’s Joseph Kennedy was the latest to get overpowered, in the region final.

Boonsboro freshman Hunter Liao hits a serve during his 6-0, 6-0 victory over Brunswick's Joseph Kennedy for the 1A West Region II boys singles title on May 20.

While Liao has yet to be challenged heading into the state tournament, he’s not worried about it.

“I’ve been playing good people in practice and in my other (USTA Junior) tournaments,” he said. “If there’s a challenge, I’ll meet it.”

Warriors seniors Nick Stotler and Bryan Duft (20-1) didn’t have to take the court Friday to be crowned region champs. Clear Spring’s Chase Weaver and Owen Reasner – who battled past Williamsport’s Gavin Spielman and Ian Lane 6-7 (5), 7-5, 10-8 in Thursday’s semifinals – opted to forfeit the final.

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