Making brain gains, Bears' Novitski, Hawks' Tambat continue county tennis dominance

Much of the progress made by the Frederick County Public Schools tennis champions in No. 1 singles over the last year came between the ears rather than between the lines on the court.

Urbana senior Shloka Tambat and Oakdale junior Nick Novitski each cited improved mental approaches to help explain their continued dominance on the county level.

Tambat won her third title as the top singles player in the county Monday at Baker Park with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Middletown’s Sharon Martin. Tambat will take an unbeaten record this season into the regional championships later this week, with the ultimate goal of winning her first state title.

She called the achievement of winning a third county title “pretty epic.”

Meanwhile, Novitski won his second straight county title without dropping a game in the championship match, this time dispatching Urbana’s Ritvik Gonugunta 6-0, 6-0. In three years at Oakdale, Novitski has lost just two matches, both in the state tournament. He didn’t get a chance to play the county tournament his freshman year after it was rained out.

“Nick can hit every shot,” Oakdale coach Chris Schlee said. “What he’s become more comfortable doing is picking and choosing when to go for some stuff.”

That’s part of his continually improving mental approach, which was tested before Novitski even took the court Monday, as he had to endure an Advanced Placement Pre-Calculus test of more than three hours.

He said maintaining focus on the math test was a bit of a challenge right before he was going to play a county tennis final, and he hoped that the exam wouldn’t take such a toll on him mentally that it impacted his ability to focus on the tennis.

“It was hard. But I think I did pretty well,” he said of the AP exam. “It was a long test.”

Tambat also has been prepared to face just about any challenge this season. During practices, her coaches present her with an adverse circumstance in terms of the score, and she had to dig her way out of it.

“If I find myself in moments where I am not hitting the ball as I should, I can work my way out of it a lot quicker,” Tambat said.

It’s taken a lot of hard work from a mental standpoint for her to get to that point.

“By her own admission, she would run highs and lows in matches [mentally and emotionally],” Urbana coach Jon Walton said of Tambat. “She is a perfectionist. Sometimes, she’d over emphasize certain games or be more aware of the vibe. She is a player that is really attuned to the emotional energy. So, she didn’t go full robot. She is never going to. But she was able to harness that and level off a little bit.”

Tambat’s victory was part of another big day for Urbana tennis on the county scene, as the Hawks won the girls team championship with 41 points and the boys championship with 34 points.

Brunswick, which sent three doubles teams to the county finals, was second on the girls side with 17 points, while Middletown was second in the boys standings with 16.

“A lot of what we try to do is be the quiet machine,” Walton said of his Urbana teams. “The joke is quiet efficiency. Come out for the team, play well, don’t leave a lot for other people [to seize on]. We try to look at it as have fun, celebrate. But we also look at it a little bit like work.”

The rest of the county champions on the boys side were Urbana’s Mihir Mahadev in No. 2 singles, Maxwell Liu and Luc Lugez in No. 1 doubles and Adithya Swaminathan and Sibi Sivakumaran in No. 3 doubles. Middletown’s Maximo Jih-Vieira and Jack Bolton took the title in No. 2 doubles.

On the girls side, the county champs were Urbana’s Claire Kim and Meredith Flynn in No. 1 doubles, Aarushi Kariveda and Dana Damoulakis in No. 2 doubles and Sanaa Nayeem and Alejandra Sierra Manrique in No. 3 doubles. Walkersville’s Mia Juarez cruised to the championship at No. 2 singles.


FCPS Championship Finals


No. 1 Singles: 1. Nick Novitski (O) def. 2. Ritvik Gonugunta (U), 6-0, 6-0

No. 2 Singles: 1. Mihir Mahadev (U) def. 3. Carter Sharpe (W), 6-1, 6-0

No. 1 Doubles: 1. Maxwell Liu/Luc Lugez (U) def. 2. Giovanni Rossi/Joshua Hauser (M), 6-1, 6-1

No. 2 Doubles: 2. Maximo Jih-Vieira/Jack Bolton (M) def. 1. Mewenn Le Guellec/Vishruth Madduri (U), 3-6, 6-3, (10-7)

No. 3 Doubles: 4. Adithya Swaminathan/Sibi Sivakumaran (U) def. 3. Kankam Boateng/Kyle Nicholson (L), 6-4, 6-1


No. 1 Singles: 1. Shloka Tambat (U) def. 3. Sharon Martin (M), 6-1, 6-2

No. 2 Singles: 1. Mia Juarez (W) def. 3. Aleesha Khawaja (U), 6-1, 6-0

No. 1 Doubles: 1. Claire Kim/Meredith Flynn (U) def. 2. Zoe Razunguzwa/Denise Yongbi (B), 6-2, 6-1

No. 2 Doubles: 1. Aarushi Kariveda/Dana Damoulakis (U) def. 2. Avelean Murphy/Maddie Maras (B), 7-5, 6-3

No. 3 Doubles: 3. Sanaa Nayeem/Alejandra Sierra Manrique (U) def. 1. Annabelle Caruso/Kylie Shawver (B), 6-0, 6-4