Douglas Freeman boys tennis coach Jeff Given isn’t sure exactly when it clicked for his top doubles pair of freshman Dylan Chou and sophomore Daniel Lim.
The Class 5 doubles champions only started playing together at the beginning of this past spring season. They lost their first match in mid-March to Mills Godwin’s No. 1 doubles team, 10-1.
Chou and Lim proceeded to go 5-5 in the regular season. Then came regionals, and the underclassmen duo caught fire, reeling off six consecutive victories to capture the state title.
“It just worked out, they got on a roll,” Given said. “They both had some tough matches at the beginning of the season. … It helps that we have so many good teams and quality players in the Richmond area, that makes everybody better.”
Chou is a calm player who control his emotions well on the court, particularly for a freshman, Given said.
The Mavericks No. 1 singles player and Region 5C singles champion, Chou earned impressive victories against some of the area’s top players on his way to a region crown, including Glen Allen’s Ryan Good (6-2, 6-1), Deep Run’s Siddharth Pande (6- 2, 6-1) and Deep Run’s Zach Fleishman in the title match, 7-6, 3-6, 11-9.
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Chou, whose father played tennis at Wake Forest, got a nose bleed in the first set against Fleishman and considered pulling out of the match as the fourth consecutive day of two-match competition started in 90-plus degree heat to catch up with him.
But he took his medical timeout and recovered to win a grueling battle with Fleishman that lasted more than two hours. Chou was down in the third-set tiebreaker before winning a string of points to claim the crown.
Freeman lost to Deep Run in the region semifinals of the team competition, then came the singles and doubles tournaments the following week. Given said the workload on top tennis players toward the end of the season takes some management, and Chou and Lim fought through that demanded together.
Lim was the Mavericks’ No. 1 single player as a freshman. Chou supplanted him to start the season, and Given said it took Lim a few weeks to really settle in and find a rhythm. But around mid-April, he caught fire as well.
“They both got on a pretty good roll toward the end of April and first part of May,” Given said.
Chou and Lim defeated the Riverbend High duo of Jack Wexler and Chase Catullo 6-4, 6-2 in the Class 5 doubles championship June 10 at Huntington Park in Newport News.
Given said communication was key in the maturation of his top doubles pair, as they went from losing their first match 10-1 to winning a state title in a matter of months.
“The first couple, they were talking, but not really communicating on the court,” Given said, adding matches that both are somewhat quiet by nature off the court.
“Once they started playing more together, they would talk before each serve. They started communicating more, high-fiving each other more as the season progressed.”