McLean Girls Varsity Tennis beats Langley in regional finals, advances to state tournament

Victory over rival Saxons gives McLean regional championship title


Courtesy of McLean Girls Varsity

After defeating the Langley team in a close match, McLean Girls Varsity Tennis smile big with their regional championship banner.

The girl’s varsity tennis team had an exciting win on May 26, beating the Langley Saxons in the regional championship match. With the dust from the district and regional tournaments settled, the girls have their sights set on the opening round of the state championship tournament on Friday, June 3.

“[We’re] waiting to hear [more details about] our game [for States],” senior Michelle Martinkov said. “They don’t give too much information on it, but [so far] we know we play one of the teams from South [County].”

After their victory against Langley, the whole team is buzzing with excitement as they head to States.

“[Winning at regionals] gave our team confidence as we head into States because [we] see that we are good enough to beat hard opponents,” Martinkov said.

The team walked into the regional finals with faith in their ability to win, and as they look towards States, their newly bolstered confidence doesn’t seem to be going away.

“I think confidence and hunger [helped us win the most because] we came in knowing we could win and wanted to get the regional title,” varsity girls tennis head coach Natalina Koludrovic said. “This belief factor helped us get to the finish line.”

Even when the girls were down 3-4 in the overall scoring and had lost four straight games, they made sure to keep their belief that they would win, and once again, their positive mentality helped bring them a victory.

“I think at this point, a lot of people would have counted us out because it didn’t look good [that we were losing],” Koludrovic said. “Even though the girls were playing super well, my heart was beating so fast because I knew it could go either way. While [the] court battled back to win the second set, the other doubles match was wrapping up their match, and that’s when I realized the regional title would come down to a tiebreak. In this format, when teams split sets, they play a first to 10-point tiebreak, which is like a roulette game because anything could happen.”

The girls have not always felt this confident, however. Becoming closer over the course of the year helped them build their self-esteem as a team.

“Compared to the beginning of the season, our team has grown and become more comfortable around each other,” junior Sasha Zeltser said. “We learned how to face challenges and use our strengths to beat other teams, and winning with these strategies made us bond a lot better and grow our confidence since we’re used to the game.”

Having a good team dynamic comes from players being positive and keeping their heads up, which the girls make sure to excel at. Finding the balance between being ultra-competitive while still having fun while playing the game you love is difficult, but the Highlanders have managed to achieve that balance.

“The team is amazing,” Koludrovic said. “There is a great vibe within them, and I definitely wouldn’t want to coach another team [because of their] talent, [coachability], and motivation to win. One thing that sets us apart from other teams is our team spirit and everyone hyping each other up.”

While the team was overjoyed to take home the banner for winning the region, the cherry on top was the fact that the decisive match was against Langley, their fiercest competitor and biggest rival.

“Winning our doubles matches was fulfilling, and beating Langley as a whole when they thought it would be an easy win for them was the best part,” Zeltser said.

Although Langley may have believed they would be victorious before losing, Martinkov always thought differently.

“[Even though] I felt a little nervous before our match, [we] expected to win since we beat that team multiple times in the past and never lost,” Martinkov said, “but you never know what can happen, which is why it is important to stay humble and not get too cocky.”

Winning did not just contribute to the excitement of the team, but the school as a whole. The boys and girls dominance in tennis adds to McLean’s strong spring sports showing in 2022.

“The boy’s tennis team is going to States as well, so I think we just helped give the tennis team and our sports program a good reputation,” Zeltser said. “Adding another trophy to the case at McLean motivates all sports to keep up the momentum, especially since it was against such a competitive rival like Langley.”

From here on out, the team seeks to continue taking pleasure in their accomplishment at regionals and hold onto their determination to keep winning.

“Some advice I have is to take [the] competition one step at a time,” Martinkov said. “The big picture can look intimidating and hard, but victory is not as hard if you take small steps.”