Bianca Mok shook hands with Borah freshman Sydnie Binder at the net, smiled briefly and walked quietly off the court Saturday afternoon at Settlers Park.
As spectators applauded the Boise senior’s fourth consecutive girls singles championship at the 5A District Three tennis tournament, Mok almost immediately disappeared among the crowd.
Mok didn’t seem particularly interested in celebrating her 6-0, 6-2 win over Binder, or the fact that she remained unbeaten throughout four seasons in a Braves uniform.
Instead, Mok made her way over to the boys singles championship, content to sit courtside with a group of friends cheering on teammate Jacob Schoenherr in his match against Borah’s Kyle Whittaker.
“It was fun. I like playing against Sydnie,” Mok said. “She’s a really good player.”
While Mok is more likely to sing the praises of her opponents, her talent on the court has a way of speaking for itself.
Using a powerful, consistent backhand and a tough serve, Mok heads into next week’s 5A state tournament at the Boise Racquet & Swim Club as the three-time defending champion. She’s only dropped one set her entire high school career.
“She had lots of good serves. She kept it consistent,” Binder said. “When she got the opportunity, she put the ball away.”
Defending district champion Whittaker lost 6-3 in the first set against Schoenherr.
In the past, Whittaker says he might have done something dramatic, like throw his racket, but not this season.
Whittaker’s shift to a more positive approach — which he refers to as his “new brain” — helped him keep his composure, reassess and rally.
Whittaker gutted out a 6-3 win in the second set and used a variety of shots and tough serves throughout the tiebreaker to complete the comeback with a 6-0 final set.
“The huge thing was my mental game. I’ve been working on it,” said Whittaker, who lost to Schoenherr in two previous meetings this season. “It’s pulled me through the last couple matches.”
Whittaker, a senior, hopes his change in attitude will result in a victory at state. He finished as the runner-up last season.
Eagle senior Andrew Tzeng has already won three state titles, and now he hopes to show his little brother Adam the ropes.
Adam, a freshman, teamed up with his older brother to defeat Boise’s Eric Lim and Patrick Dwyer 6-2, 6-1. The Tzengs have not lost a match this season.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Andrew said. “It’s a lot of fun. I’m very lucky that my brother can play with me and that we do so well.”
Amelia Cogan had no way to know what was in store for her when she moved to Idaho from Chicago shortly before the start of the school year.
But starting over at a new school just got a little easier.
Cogan and Eagle doubles partner Skylar Schossberger improved to 21-0 this season with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Timberline’s Brook Hadley and Devon Austin-Canning.
Although they’ve only been playing together for a short time, the two have a clear connection on the court. They have yet to lose a single set.
“We’re really good friends off the court, and I think that makes our chemistry better,” Cogan said.
David Galway and Sophie Uhlenkott have played just five matches together this season.
If they were feeling at all uneasy against Eagle’s Ellie Jacobs and Aurin Bagchi, they didn’t show it.
Despite trailing in both sets, Galway and Uhlenkott persevered for a 6-3, 6-3 victory. It was the first district title for Uhlenkott, but the second for Galway, who played with Uhlenkott’s older sister Hannah last season, finishing second at state.
“I force my players to play with different partners all year. I am one of those coaches that kind of goes against the grain,” said Meridian coach Bob Uhlenkott, Sophie’s dad. “At the end of the year, when you have to mix things up, they’re usually ready, and they were ready.”
Eagle edged Boise for the boys team championship. The Mustangs finished with 47 points, Boise had 45, and Timberline and Meridian tied for third with 33 points each.
Timberline won a tight team race on the girls side with 43 points. Eagle took second with 39 points, Boise was third with 36 and Rocky Mountain took fourth with 32.5.