Streak Engaged: Western boys tennis sweeps Hidden Valley to advance to second-straight finals

After a five-year layoff, Western Albemarle boys tennis officially has a new state final appearance streak.


The defending state champions clinched a return trip to the title match with a 5-0 win over visiting Hidden Valley and will compete on Saturday at Roanoke College against York.


This season, Western added a new weapon in junior Gavin Seagraves, who joined a deep ladder that led the Warriors to an undefeated regular season as well.


Seagraves and Alex Ix completed double-bagel victories at the top two spots almost simultaneously to give the Warriors (19-0) a 2-0 lead early, setting the tone for yet another efficient win. Seagraves’ victory came over Christopher Newport commit Paul Baron.


“We couldn’t have asked for a better addition,” Western coach Seth Heller said. “He’s ranked in the top 100 in the nation, and he’s going to the Naval Academy in a couple years and that speaks to his tremendous work ethic. It’s going to be a great school for him.”


Ix, whose father Charles was the coach at Western for its three consecutive state titles from 2007-09, was also a member of last season’s championship team. That year was the Warriors’ first appearance since 2012.


“Hidden Valley is always a solid program,” Heller said. “We come across them a lot in playoffs, they’ve gotten the best of us before but the last two years we’ve beaten them. It’s a huge milestone and not many teams get to experience it. We need to make sure we’re not taking it for granted.


Daniel Thomas was next off the court at No. 3 with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Isaac Nichols then No. 5 Nicholas Hagspiel polished off Cem Durmaz by a score of 6-0 6-4 to put the Warriors one win away.


It came from Jack Tribble at No. 4, whose serve and net play gave him a win over Gavin Pyle and made it official.


In addition to the team final, Seagraves will also compete in individual state tournament play this weekend and will team up with Ix for doubles competition.