A game away from a straight-sets loss, Joe DeFilippo found the motivation he needed to keep going.

“I didn’t want to be the first match (finished),” DeFilippo joked Saturday.

The Shady Spring senior was able to avoid that, extending the match by winning two consecutive games against nemesis Chad Brady of Bluefield and get to 5-4. But Brady, as he did in their two previous meetings, closed it out and won 6-2, 6-4 for the Class AA boys No. 1 singles state championship.

It was the third meeting between the two, with Brady sweeping the series. He beat DeFilippo in the regional final prior to Saturday’s state title match in Charleston.

“It was a good match,” DeFilippo said. “He just played really well. He didn’t miss too much. He really raised his level a bunch.”

DeFilippo (18-3) said he played more aggressively once Brady was on the cusp of the championship.

“I knew it was going to be over soon if I didn’t pick it up,” he said.

“He was just playing really amazing. He definitely deserved it.”

Shady Spring coach Vaughn Rhudy, who returned to coach the team this year after a lengthy hiatus, said DeFilippo played well.

“He knew he had everything to win and nothing to lose. Chad is just a terrific player,” Rhudy said. “Joe went out and played a terrific match. He went for and hit some terrific shots and had some terrific points. It’s not like it was a blowout either way.”

Despite the title loss, the season was a success for DeFilippo.

“I was really happy to get that far and go to the finals,” he said. “It was a great year. I didn’t win the regional to make it, but to reach the finals of the state tournament was really cool. It was a great way to end my high school career.”

Rhudy said DeFilippo provided invaluable leadership to a young team.

“After the match we were talking to each other, and we said we had some great times this season,” Rhudy said. “It was a lot of fun.

“We had to recruit a lot of young players just to make sure we would have a boys team. Joe was the only player we had back from last year. He showed great leadership skills. He took the younger players under his wing and helped them out.”

DeFilippo, the editor-in-chief of Shady’s school newspaper, will attend the University of Pittsburgh. He is undecided on a major.

Pitt only has club tennis, but DeFilippo plans to continue playing competitively.

The Woodrow Wilson duo of Alex Cottle and Maher El-Harake also fell short in their quest for a state championship.

Cottle and El-Harake lost 6-2, 6-1 to George Washington’s Casey Smithson and Logan Spears in the Class AAA No. 2 doubles title match.

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