Boys’ Latin’s Eli Holder had a lot on his mind when he took the court in the pivotal match of the MIAA B Conference tennis championship match at Suburban Country Club.

He thought about teammate James London, his predecessor as the No. 2 singles player, who clinched the 2022 championship for the Lakers.

He thought about his family, especially his grandfather, who gave him a wrench he brought to the Pikesville’s golf and tennis facility for good luck. Holder remembered a makeshift cardboard sign one of his classmates held up.

It read: Eli the Eliminator. Holder was the closer for the Lakers, who won their second consecutive crown, 3-2, over Beth Tfiloh.

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The sophomore swept Beth Tfiloh’s Brandon Rybalnik, 7-5 and 6-2. After match point, Holder was mobbed by his BL mates.

A year ago, he was in the group that celebrated with London after his title-clinching victory.

“He (London) did the same exact thing last year and it was inspiring to watch and I just wanted to repeat it,” said Holder. “I was thinking about all the people who’ve helped me and I wanted to make them proud.”

The Lakers won both doubles competition as freshman Neil Curley and sophomore Max Riter defeated Beth Tfiloh’s Sammy Statman and Guy Taylor in straight sets (6-3) in the No. 1 match. BL’s No. 2 sophomore duo Charlie London and Jake Jones didn’t drop a game against Elan Kovacs and Michael Mirsky.

Boys' Latin's Eli Holder holds up the MIAA B Conference tennis championship plaque Thursday. The sophomore's straight set victory in the No. 3 singles match clinched the Lakers' 3-2 victory over Beth Tfiloh at Suburban Country Club in Pikesville.
Boys' Latin's Eli Holder holds up the MIAA B Conference tennis championship plaque Thursday. The sophomore's straight set victory in the No. 3 singles match clinched the Lakers' 3-2 victory over Beth Tfiloh at Suburban Country Club in Pikesville. (Derek Toney)

The Warriors, who defeated Boys’ Latin during the regular season (3-2), got triumphs from junior Elam Vogelstein, who swept James London (6-1, 6-0) in No. 1 singles. Junior Jacob Blum swept Laker sophomore Evan Rosen (6-0, 6-3) in No. 2 singles.

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It came down to the No. 2 singles and Holder who won the first three sets. He was the No. 3 singles performer last year.

“I remember last year being in a similar spot and all the guys on the team surrounding me and cheering me on,” said James London. “Even though I was disappointed losing my match, I knew I had to cheer him on and do what I could to lift him up when he lost a couple of points. He played really well today.”

“He’s the heart and soul of the team this year,” said Lakers coach Rich Zielaskiewicz. “He put us on his back. He’s a great tennis player, but what really touches me the most is he’s a great human being.”

The Lakers have no seniors on their roster after graduating four seniors, who led the Roland Park school to the program’s first MIAA championship last spring.

“There were definitely questions coming into the season,” said Holder. “We were really hopeful and believed in each other.”

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MIAA B CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP

at Suburban Country Club

BOYS’ LATIN 3, BETH TFILOH 2

No. 1 Doubles - Curley & Riter (Boys’ Latin) def. Statman &Taylor (Beth Tfiloh), 6-3, 6-3

No. 2 Doubles - C. London & Jones (Boys’ Latin) def. Kovacs & Mirsky (Beth Tfiloh), 6-0, 6-0

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No. 1 Singles - Elam Vogelstein (Beth Tfiloh) def. James London (Boys’ Latin), 6-1, 6-0

No. 2 Singles - Eli Holder (Boys’ Latin) def. Brandon Rybalnik (Beth Tfiloh), 7-5, 6-2

No. 3 Singles - Jacob Blum (Beth Tfiloh) def. Evan Rosen (Boys’ Latin), 6-0, 6-3

Derek Toney is content editor of Varsity Sports Network, a high school sports news network that became part of The Baltimore Banner in August 2022. 

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