The Caesar Rodney boys and girls tennis teams only won two of their 10 matches at the DIAA tennis championship finals Wednesday afternoon, but that was all that was needed for history.


The Caesar Rodney boys and girls tennis teams only won two of their 10 matches at the DIAA tennis championship finals Wednesday afternoon, but that was all that was needed for history.
With their dominant performances earlier in the week, the Rider boys and girls were crowned state champions on the University of Delaware Tennis Courts, placing finalists in each match. For the Caesar Rodney girls, who shared the first place trophy with Tower Hill, it was the first state championship in the program’s history.
“We’ve had four in the finals before, but never all five,” said CR boys coach James Harvey, who has been with the tennis program since 1975. “I looked at the points and saw what we had to do. We wanted to get three wins against Tower Hill [Tuesday] and four would’ve been great, but we were able to get all five.”
The Rider boys sewed up their championship early in Wednesday’s finals, as the first doubles tandem of Sri Myneni and Nate Parker bested St. Andrews’ Will Plautz and Mike Ding in two sets by a score of a 6-3, 7-6 (6). The only other winner for Caesar Rodney was first singles player Jared Morris, who down a set and two games in the second set rallied to defeat Alander Graham of A.I. DuPont in three sets (4-6, 6-4, 6-1). Morris credited his focus for battling back against Graham.
“I thought there was still a lot of playing time left,” a tired but happy Morris said.  “When I was able to break him at 4, I knew I had it.”
“That kid was very good,” Harvey said of Graham. “He was hitting the ball really hard and Jared had to move him around to get going and that’s what he did.”
Morris finished the 2011 season unbeaten and both he and his coach said maturity played a big part in his successful season.
“I didn’t play two years ago, I was upset in the second round last year, so I wasn’t mature enough to win,” Morris admitted. “This year, I was.”
“He was down, but his maturity level has improved,” Harvey added. “He kept fighting and he knew what he had to do.”
Morris, a junior, looks forward to a rematch with Graham, who he defeated in a tournament in Philadelphia earlier this year.
“I’m sure he’ll be looking for a rematch,” Morris said with a smile. “I’ll be here.”
On the girls side of things, CR also placed five finalists, but none were able to claim singles or doubles gold, but that didn’t cheapen the experience for Riders girls coach Zach Taylor.
“It was a lot of fun, the girls worked hard and they knew they had the potential to be state champions,” Taylor said, adding that the girls were relaxed after their triumphs earlier in the tournament.
“We knew the worst we could was tie for the championship, so they were ready for the finals, which is a whole other challenge,” he explains. “You have more people watching, you have officials out there – it’s a big scene.”
All in all, everyone involved was happy that Caesar Rodney, for the first time ever, could claim to the best tennis teams in the First State.
“It’s exciting and it’s big for our school, we read it in the papers all the time,” Morris said.
“The boys and girls get along well, they take tennis lessons together and they know each other well, so they pull for one another,” Taylor said. “It’s not a boys and girls thing – it’s a CR thing.”

E-mail Chris Stevens at chris.stevens@doverpost.com