Knee injury ends tennis star Maury Mya Byrd’s hopes of winning third national singles title; First Colonial, Tabb girls win doubles championships

A season-ending knee injury to tennis star Maury Mya Byrd marred a Friday that handed a couple of VHSL doubles championships to the Hampton Roads girls as well as an opportunity for four 757 competitors to win singles crowns on Saturday .

Byrd, who won Class 5 championships as a rookie and junior and was virtually untouchable in high school singles, was chasing his third crown and was well on his way. She was leading 6-2, 1-0 over Independence High’s Bella De Luise on a morning of semi-finals at Huntington Park when disaster struck.

“She served and her knee just gave out,” said her father, Norfolk State teacher Melendez Byrd.

The match was stopped so Byrd could be dealt with, although there was audible disagreement over what the protocols should be. About 10 minutes later, she tried to play again, but could barely move. She limped towards the net and tapped rackets with De Luise, indicating the match was over.

It was a stunning end to one of the best high school tennis careers in Hampton Roads history. Byrd has signed to play for nationally ranked Old Dominion, but it’s unclear when she might get the hang of it.

After the singles, Byrd was scheduled to play the doubles final with Addison Felts. Since they had won a semifinal on Thursday, VHSL rules prevented the Commodores from replacing another player.

Maury’s trainer, Jody Sanzo, said afterwards: “I’m not letting her out. She has too much of a future to go there and hurt herself even more.

Thus, Alex Sanda and Melissa Young of First Colonial won the title, but not as they would like. After winning four games in the Region A bracket to earn their place in the semi-finals, they have never touched a ball in the state. Their scheduled semifinal opponents on Thursday in JR Tucker withdrew due to illness, and Byrd’s injury prevented a 757 championship matchup.

The region’s other women’s doubles title was much more satisfying for the players. Tabb’s Christina Baxter earned a share of Class 3 honors for the second straight year, joining Valentina Crespo-Berker.

Their 6-1, 6-2 triumph at Virginia Tech came over Kirby Westerfield and Naadia Rashid of Maggie Walker, the school that ousted the Tigers from the postseason squad for the past two years. Baxter won last year’s doubles with then-senior Emily Beckner and will have a shot at winning the singles trophy on Saturday at Blacksburg, thanks to their 6-0, 6-0 semi-final win on Friday over Catherine Mowry by Liberty Christian.

Also at Virginia Tech, Poquoson’s Luke Gibson won a 7-5, 6-1 semifinal against Alleghany’s Baron Leitch and will play a final on Saturday.

Meanwhile, at Newport News, Harrison Lee of Princess Anne (in boys’ class 5) and Kayla Kennedy of Great Bridge (in girls’ class 4) secured places in Saturday’s singles finals at 10 hours.

Lee edged Douglas Freeman’s Dylan Chou 6-1, 6-1, earning a spot against Riverbend’s Jack Wexler.

Kennedy won the final four points of the first set tiebreaker and surged to a 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 win over Broad Run’s Isabella Rotaru.

“Probably the tiebreaker” was the key to the game, Kennedy said. “In the second set, I was more consistent. In the first set, I was going too much, and his topspin on my backhand got me in trouble.

She will face a more familiar foe, Kirsten Woods of Blacksburg, in a freshman title match.

“She’s really good too,” Kennedy said of Woods, the daughter of Virginia Tech women’s tennis coach Terry Ann Zawacki-Holdren.

Region A singles champions Vincent Yi of Ocean Lakes, Rainer Christiansen of Grafton and Zach Beckner of Tabb lost the boys’ singles semifinals in Class 6, 4 and 3 respectively, while Sanda fell in semi-final for girls in class 5.

BOYS

Class 6: Matthew Staton (Colgan) d. Lucas Pak (Chantilly) by walkover/illness; Vincent Truong (WT Woodson) d. Vincent Yi (Ocean Lakes) 6-0, 6-0.

Class 5: Yack Wexler (Riverbend) d. Alex Seretis (Maury) 6-3, 6-1; Harrison Lee (Princess Anne) d. Dylan Chou (Douglas Freeman) 6-1, 6-1.

Class 4: Jacob Pfab (Powhatan) d. Spencer Knight (EC Glass) 6-1, 6-4; Sid Dabhade (Lightridge) d. Rainer Christiansen (Grafton) 7-6 (7-4), 6-2.

Class 3: Luca Bonfigli (Monticello) d. Zach Beckner (Tabb) 6-2, 6-0.

Class 2: Luke Gibson (Poquoson) d. Baron Leitch (Allegheny) 7-5, 6-1.

GIRLS

Class 6: Simone Bergeron (Madison) d. Maya Bravo (Patriot) 6-0, 6-0; Kaitlyn Nguyen (South County) d. Hayley Glen (Cosby) 6-1, 6-3.

Class 5: Bella De Luise (Independence) d. Mya Byrd (Maury) 2-6, 0-1, retired/injury; Sia Chaudry (Clover Hill) d. Alex Sanda (First Colonial) 6-0, 6-1.

Class 4: Kirsten Woods (Blacksburg) d. Miranda McCoy (eastern view) 6-0, 6-0; Kayla Kennedy (Big Bridge) d. Isabella Rotaru (Broad Run) 7-6 (7-5), 6-1.

Class 3: Christina Baxter (Tabb) d. Catherine Mowry (Liberty Christian) 6-0, 6-0.

BOYS

Class 6: Vincent Truong-Ansh Pathapadu (WT Woodson) d. Matthew Staton-Rebhi Villasmil Rodriguez (Colgan) 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Class 5: Dylan Chou-Daniel Lim (Douglas Freeman) d. Jack Wexler-Chase Catullo (Riverbend) 6-4, 6-2.

Class 4: Tobin Yates-Brader Eby (Western Albemarle) d. Sid Dabhade-Abhinav Maddi (Lightridge) 6-2, 6-2.

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GIRLS

Class 6: Kaitlyn Nguyen-Maya Wilson (South County) d. Vanessa Popescu-Michelle Martinkov (McLean) 6-1, 7-6 (7-0).

Class 5: Alex Sanda-Melissa Young (Premier Colonial) d. Mya Byrd-Addison Felts (Maury) via walkover/injury.

Class 4: Kirsten Woods-Raya Freeborn (Blacksburg) d. Anya Ambarish-Tarini Panidepu (Rock Ridge) 6-1, 6-3.

Class 3: Christina Baxter – Valentina Crespo-Berker (Tabb) d. Kirby Westerfield-Naadia Rashid (Maggie Walker) 6-1, 6-2.



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