Salem, VA resident Patrick O’Keefe recently finished his high school tennis career with an unprecedented fourth singles Virginia AA state title. The talented baseliner, who bears a resemblance to multiple Grand Slam winner Australian Lleyton Hewitt, was one of over 250 Mid-Atlantic players who brought their talents to the 2011 Battle in the Burg tournament in Fredericksburg, VA.
"Out here everyone has the same goal and is trying to do best as possible," said O’Keefe, who will play for Radford University in the fall. "It’s tough to come in here and play in the tournament."
In addition to O’Keefe, more than 10 Boys’ 18 players who were in the weeklong tournament hosted at the University of Mary Washington have committed to play collegiate tennis.
Second seed Jason Luu of Fairfax, VA defeated O’Keefe in the round of 16 and will be on the Cornell University tennis team this fall. The Easter Bowl doubles winner reached the semifinals before falling to eventual runner-up and Vanderbilt recruit Joe Dorn of Washington, DC.
"This tournament is really tough," said Luu. "I don’t think seeds matter that much. There are a handful of players who I feel that are equal."
In the end, big-serving Ryan Shane of Falls Church, VA blasted his way to the Boys’ 18 Battle in the Burg title. The top seeded rising senior did not drop a single set throughout the tournament and finished in style, hitting a blistering cross-court backhand to set up match point.
It was a good tournament, a lot of good players," said the hard-hitting Shane.
And with another year left in Boys’ 18, look for Shane to return next year to defend his title.
The Girls’ 18 final was a battle of the top seeds, with second seed and returning finalist Emily Hahn of Richmond, VA coming out on top against number one seed Laila Judeh of Potomac, MD.
In the Boys’ 16 championship, Yancy Dennis of Reisterstown, MD fought back from a set down to defeat Vienna, VA’s Josh Hublitz.
Thirteen-year-old Ndindi Ndunda of Burke, VA followed up her Girls’ 14 victory in last year’s inaugural Battle in the Burg with a win in the Girls’ 16 division this year.
The 14s division served as the Section’s Nike Qualifying event with each of the winners earning a free trip to the Nike National Championship in Florida this September.
The 2011 champions were last year’s Boys’ 14 titlist Francis Tiafoe of College Park, MD and top Girls’ 14 seed Ines Vias of Germantown, MD.
"I think I’ve been playing really well," said the thirteen-year-old Tiafoe. "I like this tournament, there were a lot of people and it was pretty good competition."
With high caliber matches and tough competition, this year’s Battle in the Burg truly showcased the best tennis talents of the Mid-Atlantic.
This article was written for the USTA/Mid-Atlantic website and can be viewed here. Also linked are photos from the tournament.