By the time Sachin Khurana moved into the middle part of his second set, he knew that if he could pull off a win over Mount Paran’s Patrick Weindorfer, the Stratford Eagles would move into the GHSA Class A tennis championship Saturday.
But if he lost, the Eagles’ season was over.
After winning the first set in a tiebreaker, Khurana was in a second-set battle, trailing 3-2.
But feeding off of a strong Stratford crowd, Khurana won the next four games to win the second set 6-3. That win gave the Eagles a 3-2 victory and moved them to the state championship Saturday against a yet to be determined opponent.
“The crowd definitely gave me a boost, and maybe it bothered my opponent a little bit,” Khurana said. “This win was so important to us, and I knew it was up to me at the end. I play a lot of tournament tennis, but this is all about winning for my team and my school, and it was great that I was able to come through.
“We want to be the first Stratford team to win a state championship in the GHSA, and now we will have our chance on Saturday.”
Stratford had clutch performances from freshman Mark Barrow. Playing the No. 2 singles match for Stratford, Barrow quickly disposed of Mount Paran’s Will Burton 6-3, 6-2. But Bhavik Narsinghani, playing at No. 3 singles for Stratford, lost his match to Sam Fulkerson to even things up.
Stratford’s Chandler Banks and Cole Garrett lost at No. 2 doubles to Patrick Lee and Jared Knox, but the No. 1 doubles team for Stratford, Sarin Khurana and Kenji Yoshida evened things up with a 6-2, 7-5 win. After winning the first set, Khurana and Yoshida fell behind 5-0 in the second set before winning the next seven games to win the match
That put it all on Sachin Khurana, and he was able to get a hardfought win.
“Sachin is probably our most experienced player, but I would have been comfortable with any one of our guys being in that same situation,” Stratford head coach Jaime Kaplan said. “I was so proud of the way our entire team played. Mark Barrow is just a freshman and he played a great match, and the way our doubles team fought back was just great to see. Kenji was a game time decision because he has been sick, but once they started coming back in that second set, the emotions just took over for them. Having Sachin come through for us in that difficult situation was a just unbelievable. We really didn’t know where we would end up this year with it being our first year in the GHSA, but this is certainly where we hoped we would be.”