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Boys tennis: Big week for Guilderland

After winning team championship, Dutchmen send two doubles teams to states

The Guilderland boys tennis team is sending both of its doubles teams to the state tournament after they both reached the Section II finals. The players are, from left, Bill Dong, Michael Zhu, Alex Fedorov and Erick Kopff.

The Guilderland boys tennis team is sending both of its doubles teams to the state tournament after they both reached the Section II finals. The players are, from left, Bill Dong, Michael Zhu, Alex Fedorov and Erick Kopff. Photo by Rob Jonas.

— Thursday's Section II doubles championship tennis match at Sportime proved to be a perfect conclusion to a great week for Guilderland.

After beating Bethlehem 5-4 in the Class A team finals May 16, the Dutchmen landed both of their doubles teams in the Sectional final, which automatically qualified both of them for next week's state tournament. The duo of Erick Kopff and Alex Fedorov defeated the team of Michael Zhu and Bill Dong 6-1, 7-6 (7-3).

Kopff -- the lone senior on the court -- reached the Sectional doubles final last year with a different partner. Fedorov, Zhu and Dong all experienced their first championship match.

"To play in the finals again is a great experience," said Kopff. "You just want to have fun with it."

Zhu and Dong were a surprise entry in the finals. The duo was unseeded entering Sectionals, but they fought their way through a tough top half of the bracket to make it to the championship round.

"It's a really big deal because we weren't seeded in Sectionals, and this is the first time we've played doubles together," said Zhu.

"I knew they'd play well, and they got some breaks along the way -- especially when the top seed (Bethlehem's Nick DeLuke and Nick Mashuta) lost in the third round," said Guilderland coach Curtis Snyder.

The No. 2-seeded team of Kopff and Fedorov looked like they had the match well in hand when they built a 5-2 lead in the second set, but Zhu and Dong won the next four games to take a 6-5 lead. Kopff and Fedorov won the next game to force a tiebreaker, where they pulled away with four consecutive points.

Kopff said he and Fedorov approached the final against their teammates like any other match they played.

"We just tried to treat them the same way as any other team we face," said Kopff. "We treat them with respect, and we try to win the match."

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