Meridian, MS—Marion Military Institute came away with back-to-back wins in the men's and women's doubles finals at the ITA Southern JUCO Regional Championship on Saturday at the Northeast Tennis Center. The men's doubles finalists from MMI, Andrew Branicki and Joseph Tanjuatco, stepped on the court first and scored a quick two-set win over their counterparts from East Central Community College, Christopher Lawrance and Isaac Santitto. The women's doubles finalists from MMI, Kitty Greenwalt and Anna Waller, stepped on the court last and squeaked by the tournament's No. 1-seeded tandem of Zoe Freke and Elisiva Latu from Meridian Community College, 7-5, 6-4.
In a freakishly outstanding performance, Branicki and Tanjuatco dismantled a strong doubles team from East Central, 6-2, 6-0. Lawrence and Santitto proved no match for the doubles wizardry of Branicki and Tanjuatco. Branicki could have taught Euclid a thing or two about angles on this magical day, and Tanjuatco, with his athletic prowess and grace, played flawlessly in all facets of the game.
"I never saw a doubles match quite like that one," coach Wright said. "Both Andrew and Joseph were in the zone. To have both players play like that in a match was something to see. Andrew hit some shots that just defied imagination. He hit several stupefying angle shots and one drop shot that was unreal. Andrew, for all his brute power, has a Midas-like touch. And Joseph played explosively from all areas of the court. He volleyed balls high and low with precision and power. He served equally well. Neither of them hardly missed a shot. That was quite a display of artistry and athleticism."
The women's final pitted the No. 1-seeded team from Meridian, Freke and Latu, against the No. 2-seeded team from MMI, Greenwalt and Waller. Greenwalt and Waller used their strengths—strong serves and steady ground strokes—to wear down Freke and Latu, who used their height and aggressive net play to their advantage to stay in the match.
"Kitty and Anna know one speed, and that speed is fast," Wright said. "They like to keep the pressure on their opponents from the first point to the last. They pound the ball, and then they wallop the ball. They live by the sword and they die by the sword. It's all or nothing. Fortunately, they had enough left in the tank to finish off the match. Anna knotted the match at 4 games apiece when she held serve in that eighth game. With Freke serving to go up 5-4, both Anna and Kitty had to come up with the goods—and they did. That was probably their best return game of the match. Kitty held her serve to close out the match. That was a gutsy and gritty match that they played."
Both doubles teams have now qualified to participate in the ITA Cup, which will be held at the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College in Rome, GA, from Thursday, October 17 to Sunday, October 20.