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Top 10 Moments: BHS duo wins tennis state championship

Brookhaven High School’s Daniel Panzica and Will Moak won the boys doubles state championship in early May.

How it happened

Will Moak and Daniel Panzica made it a goal when they were in junior high to win the tennis state championship in boys doubles by the time they graduated.

Mission accomplished.

In early May, the duo went to Oxford and dominated the MHSAA 5A boys doubles tournament for Brookhaven, and eventually won the state championship in straight sets over Lafayette High School, which was the Panthers’ first state championship since 2003.

Moak said he remembers the match point vividly, and when the Commodore player’s return went into the net, it was a feeling of joy as he had finally accomplished the goal he set out for as a young player.

“That was our goal, and it was great that we were able to win the state championship,” he said. “Every tennis ball that we had ever hit together, we worked for that moment. It was just special.”

Panzica said the moment he realized the pair had won the doubles state championship was one of the proudest in his athletic career.

“I was nervous playing that whole match,” Panzica said. “I was just kind of in shock when it was over and we had won. We knew we had a good shot to win because we had played well all year, but when it finally happened it was awesome.”

Brookhaven head tennis coach Nancy Fisher said both Panzica and Moak displayed valuable leadership on her team. The Panthers advanced to the South State championship in 2018 against Stone High School.

“They both had great leadership, and that’s the reason that we had the success that we did this season,” Fisher said.

Both players said Fisher was instrumental in the duo’s success and deserved a lot of credit for their run to the state championship.

“She really challenged us,” Panzica said. “She would set up matches for us that would challenge us so that we’d be ready to go when the state championship came up. We had a lot of people supporting us, but I couldn’t have asked for a better coach.”

Moak echoed those sentiments and said he loved his time playing under Fisher.

“She was great for us, and it was a great experience to play under her,” Moak said. “She helped us get better every day, and I loved the way that she coached. She was always extremely supportive.”

Moak, who wrapped up his tennis career and is going to Mississippi State as a student, said winning the state championship was something he dedicated to his late grandfather, and he knew he was watching down on him during those final tense moments against Lafayette.

“When he passed away, I set my goal to win the state tournament in his memory,” Moak said. “When I did win, it was emotional. My grandpa had to be really happy. I knew he was up there watching. It was something that I’ll never forget.”