Westlake’s Roger Chou seeks to add doubles title to 2017 singles crown


Roger Chou isn’t one to back away from a new challenge.

A year after winning the Class 6A boys singles tennis title, the Westlake High School senior heads to the UIL state tennis tournament in College Station Thursday gunning for something else: a doubles title.

Chou, who signed to play with Brown University , said the team aspect of doubles play is what drew him to switch from singles this season.

“Winning state was a good way to finish out my singles play,” he said. “Doubles is more fun because you have a partner. I’ve played with (partner Cyrus Sabharwal) the past three years. We’re a good combination and I thought this would be a good option to try in the individual season.”

RELATED: Westlake’s Roger Chou wins 2017 state tennis championship

It’s been a smooth move so far, as he and Sabharwal have yet to drop a match.

Chou’s decision to make the switch to doubles didn’t surprise Sabharwal.

“One state title in singles is enough,” Sabharwal said. “You can’t get any better than a state title, so why not try doubles? It’s a different game. We’ve been playing for a few years together and we’ve only lost two matches in that time. We get it done.”

Westlake tennis coach Kim Riley said the doubles history of Chou and Sabharwal only made sense for Chou to make the move away from singles.

“They’ve been playing together for a long time,” she said. “So it was a natural fit to give it a run at doubles and try to go out on a high note with your buddy.”

Chou is a special talent on the court, Riley noted, one who relies on his intelligence and speed, rather than a dominant serve, making him more Andre Agassi than Pete Sampras.

“Roger is so methodical,” she said. “He is a thinker on the court. You’re not going to out-think Roger and you’re not going to out-run him. He will run down every ball that you can possibly give him.”

The drastically different skills that Chou and Sabharwal, who stands 6 feet 7 inches tall, have on the court make them a perfect combination for the doubles game.

“Cyrus has a 6-foot-9 wingspan at the net and it’s really hard to lob over him and really hard to go around him,” Riley said. “And when you do go around him, waiting for you is Roger’s forehand. They’re a difficult team to beat because there’s very few places you can put the ball that they can’t get to it.”

Sabharwal said the key to the duo’s success is simple: It’s Chou.

“Roger is the best player in the state,” he said. “He’s really good and I go out there and play well enough for us to win.”

Chou and Sabharwal aren’t the only Westlake doubles team vying for a state title this week. The mixed doubles team of Keegan McCain and A.J. Valenty also qualified and give the Chaparrals a strong chance to earn multiple medals.

But Chou will be the one looking to go out with back-to-back state titles.

“That would be really cool,” Chou said. “Having the singles title already is great, but adding a doubles title would be cool as well.”

UIL STATE TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS

Where: Texas A&M University, College Station

When: Thursday and Friday, play starts at 8 a.m. each day

More information: uiltexas.org/tennis

CENTRAL TEXAS STATE QUALIFIERS

SINGLES

Girls

Gabby Cusano, Vandegrift - 6A

Esther Lovato, Connally - 5A

Jayci Goldsmith, Dripping Springs - 5A

Landry Laywell, Thorndale - 2A

Boys

Gaurav Singh, Westwood - 6A

Jai Naik, Vandegrift - 6A

Deven Bapat, Vandegrift - 6A

Henry Madison, Liberty Hill - 4A

Dylan Ging, Thrall - 2A

DOUBLES

Girls

Sofie Kardonik/Michelle Duan, Westwood - 6A

Anisha Apte/Synclair Larson, Vandegrift - 6A

Rachel Strait/Jessica Strait, Georgetown - 5A

Annabel Merritt/Ainsley Merritt, Austin High - 5A

Cassidy Gillis/Nora Lawson, Lampasas - 4A

Madalynn Woelfel/Weslynn Boatright, Thorndale - 2A

Boys

Roger Chou/Cyrus Sabharwal, Westlake - 6A

Nic Cusano/Baline Kanak, Vandegrift - 6A

Chaitanya Aduru/Vishwa Aduru, LBJ - 5A

Andrew Randiq/Brent Steffek, Taylor - 4A

MIXED DOUBLES

Keegan McCain/A.J. Valenty, Westlake - 6A

Mitali Khoje/Jesse Wikso, Lake Travis - 6A

Corey O’Banon/Sam Miller, Georgetown - 5A

Garrett McGuire/Megan Dwamena, Lampasas - 4A

Cody Spencer/Mariah Segel, Smithville - 4A



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