NEWPORT NEWS – The two singles finals of the Bay Rivers District tennis tournament, contested just 30 yards or so apart at Huntington Park, couldn't have been much more different.
On one side, in a partly international clash of juniors with plenty of power hitting and intensity, Kurt Mittmann became the first Bruton player to win the boys title in two decades. Rifling several memorable backhand passing-shot winners, he defeated burly Austrian exchange student Fabian Schleicher of Jamestown 7-6 (7-2), 6-3.
On the other side, the first official matchup of sister vs. sister in the Walter family went to the older sibling and was friendly throughout. Jamestown senior Leah Walter, headed to the University of Virginia's engineering program, outlasted freshman Anna Walter 6-4, 6-3.
Both singles champs added doubles crowns, too. Mittmann and Patrick Riley overcame Jamestown's Sam Ross and Mike Jones 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, and the Walter sisters breezed past teammates Elizabeth Wallace and Kathy Sharp 6-1, 6-0.
Mittmann and Schleicher blasted numerous balls at and by each other, and winners finished three consecutive points on at least one occasion. Consistency proved the difference for the Bruton star, as some Schleicher groundstrokes occasionally strayed far beyond the baseline.
"I had to choose my points to get up on him," said Mittmann, who joined older sister Helen in the BRD singles champion club. "I wanted to keep it deep and take advantage of all the short balls he gave me."
Both players often punctuated points with phrases like "Come on!" or "Let's go!"
Such was not the case across the courtyard, as two siblings in lime-green Jamestown uniforms contested numerous long rallies. When Leah finally prevailed, she shared a warm hug with her sister.
"It was definitely the hardest match of the season by far," Leah said. "I had mixed feelings. If I hit a good shot, half of me would be like, 'Yes,' and the other half wouuld be like, 'Uhhh ...'
"We talked about it before, that we were both going to play really well and be fair. ... I know it could've gone either way."
Third-place matches were contested as well, with York players winning each except for Ross' singles triumph.
All of the semifinalists in each bracket will advance to the Region I tournament's individual phase, which will begin on Memorial Day, May 27.
First, the regional team tournament will be held Monday, next Wednesday and Friday. The Bay Rivers will comprise four entries per bracket, with the Battlefield getting three and the Southside District one.
(Results, listed with seeds)
Final: Kurt Mittmann (1, Bruton) d. Fabian Schleicher (Jamestown) 7-6 (7-2), 6-3. Third-place match: Sam Ross (4, J) d. Ethan Buck (3, York) 6-4, 6-1.
Final: Mittmann-Patrick Riley (1, B) d. Ross-Mike Jones (2, J) 7-6 (7-5), 6-4. Third-place match: Buck-Vraj Gajjar (3, Y) d. Nathan Campbell-Derrick Neilson (J) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Final: Leah Walter (1, Jamestown) d. Anna Walter (J) 6-4, 6-3. Third-place match: Gaby Tersigni (York) d. Teresa Alvarez (2, Y) 6-1, 6-4.
Final: Walter-Walter (1, J) d. Kathy Sharp-Elizabeth Wallace (J) 6-1, 6-0. Third-place match: Alvarez-Kristin Dantzler (4, Y) d. Kayla Jefferson-Sydney Short (3, Grafton) 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.