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Tennis: South boys top West 4-1 in region opener
South Forsyth senior Rishil Kondapaneni returns a shot Tuesday during the War Eagles' 4-1 win against West Forsyth. - photo by David Roberts

If Harrison Kim and Rishil Kondapaneni agree on one thing, it's that each player gave the other his toughest match of the season Tuesday.

In a clash featuring two of the top singles players in the county, and a sharp contrast in playing styles, Kim kept his undefeated record intact and handed Kondapaneni his first defeat of the season 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.

It was the only win for West, though, as South's boys tennis team cruised to a 4-1 victory to open Region 6-7A play.

Lova Metor rallied to top Tyler Cunningham 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 in No. 2 singles, while Kedar Desai swept Horacio Rodriguez in No. 3 singles 6-4, 6-2. The War Eagles also won both doubles matches as Samay Rapelly and Yogesh Karthikeyan (3-6, 6-2, 6-1) won in No. 1 doubles and Jackson Meier and John Ramberger won in No. 2 doubles.

Kim established control early in the set, returning Kondapaneni's best shots and forcing his opponent to the net. He also found success attacking Kondapaneni's backhand. 

According to Kim, his agility on the tennis court is an attribute he's always had. 

"I've been playing for a while, so it's just kind of muscle memory at this point," Kim said. "I was always smaller and faster and ran everything down. As I got older, I learned how to hit the ball more, so it kind of just all came together, which is good."

Kim, who signed to play tennis at Georgia State, has only three losses in his high school career — one as a freshman and two as a junior.

He didn't play for West as a sophomore, instead opting to focus on tournament play, but returned last year and enjoys the camaraderie that comes along with high school tennis.

Kondapaneni found himself on offense for much of the match, and his size allowed him to overpower Kim at times and take the second set 6-4.

But Kim proved to be a pesky out, capitalizing with some crafty movement and pulling away in the third set, 6-2.

This season marks the first year for Kondapaneni as South's No. 1 singles player following the graduation of current Wofford freshman Will Fullett.

"It's a big role," Kondapaneni said. "Last year I had much easier matches than this year. This year I've had some tough matches, and I'll have some more tough matches, but I think I'm ready."

South is 4-0 so far this season, with wins against West, Milton, Peachtree Ridge and Buford. 

"I thought Rishil did amazing today, and I especially liked how he adjusted so quickly," said South coach Shayla Brawner, who filled in Tuesday after an illness forced head coach Jason Steele to miss the match. "I felt like both guys were very talented. Neither one was really making mistakes, so they were trying to force those mistakes on their opponent, and that required a lot of mental strength as well as physical talent."

West's girls topped South on Tuesday, 3-2. The Wolverines received wins from Bri Laidman, Lily Connelly, Mabry Bowron and Mollie McDaniel. West moves to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in Region 6-7A.