Westlake’s Chou, Westwood’s Graham advance to state-title matches

When the Class 6A boys singles bracket was first released, Roger Chou quickly spotted the potential rematch.

On Thursday at the UIL tennis championships at Texas A&M, the showdown Chou, a junior at Westlake, had envisioned came to fruition. Facing Southlake Carroll’s Arman Dave for a spot in Friday’s state-title match, Chou won in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3, knocking off the defending 6A boys singles champion.

A year ago, Chou and Dave also met in a state semifinal. Dave won in straight sets on his way to a state title. This time, Chou flipped the script.

“I just wanted to get my revenge,” Chou said. “I want to win state this year so I had to face him anyway if I was going to get there.

“Last year I just thought too much and played too risky. This year I was more conservative and more consistent. I just made less errors and I gave him fewer free points.”

Now Chou will try to become the first Westlake boys singles player to capture a UIL championship since Russell Bader did it in 2010.

Chou wasn’t the only Austin-area entrant to dethrone a recent champion Thursday.

Westwood’s Kiana Graham knocked off the defending Class 6A girls singles champion, Sammi Gillas of New Braunfels, in the quarterfinals. Graham took the match 6-2, 6-3.

Graham went on to beat Daniela Padron-Castillo of Duncanville, 6-0, 6-0, to advance to the 6A girls final.

The LBJ boys doubles team of Naveen Yarlagadda and Chaitu Aduru knocked off College Station’s Rohen Sukkawala and Desmond O’Shea in straight sets (6-4, 6-0) in the 5A boys quarterfinals. A year ago, Sukkawala teamed with Kyle Miller to win the 5A boys doubles title.

Yarlagadda and Aduru then dispatched Quentin Scharfenberg and Indy Axton of Lubbock Coronado in three sets (1-6, 6-3, 6-2) to advance to Friday’s state-title match.

A pair of challenging showdowns faced Lake Travis freshman Jesse Wikso and Anderson junior Andres Almazan in their first appearances at the state tournament.

Wikso drew Pearland Dawson’s Kevin Zhu, who’s the 19th-ranked player nationally in his USTA classification, while Almazan was matched against Dave.

Playing through an on-and-off drizzle in the opening hours of the tournament, Wikso battled back in the opening set only to lose it 6-4. He then dropped the second set 6-3.

“Great experience for me,” Wikso said. “Got a feel for some of the players I might see next year. Got a feel for having the crowd behind me.

“I think it’ll help me in the next couple of years if I make it here again.”

For the past year, Almazan has been dealing with pain in his right shoulder, and the ailment flared up Thursday during his straight-set loss (6-0, 6-1) to Dave.

“I wasn’t feeling super good out there,” Almazan said. “My shoulder was bothering me. My forehand wasn’t feeling too good. The balls were getting kind of damp, and it was hard to keep a long rally going because of that. That’s usually more my game.”

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