This was one of the first stories I ever published, while I was an intern at the Albuquerque Journal in 2005.
Low-key player takes singles title
The Albuquerque Tribune
March 15, 2005
His coach says he’s humble.
His Mom says he’s soft spoken.
But Tyler Krzykowski’s surprising performance on Saturday was far from quiet. In fact, it has a lot of people talking.
Valley’s Krzykowski, No. 4 seed in the top boys bracket, defeated favorite Chris Beach of La Cueva in straight sets to capture the Albuquerque Public Schools singles championship on Saturday.
Top seed Anna Surviladze of Sandia took the girls title with a win in straight sets over La Cueva’s Marianna Varela.
True to form, Tyler kept his comments short and sweet. “I just did my best,” he said.
Others were ecstatic. “I’m just in shock, to tell you the truth,” said Valley coach Juan Martinez.
Martinez said Krzykowski’s subdued demeanor is part of his strong mental game. “Tyler’s the hardest person to read during a match,” he said. “You look at him and it looks like he’s losing. But he really just won the first set.”
Krzykowski, who won 6-2, 6-2, had never beaten Beach in his three previous tries. He said the win was one of the biggest of his high school career. He also said it will give him more experience for the upcoming season.
Martinez said the win was important for Valley’s program, which is not traditionally a big name in high school tennis.
The girls final pitted two best friends against each other. Anna Surviladze, a native of the Republic of Georgia, defeated Marianna Varela, 6-0, 6-3.
Surviladze said this weekend’s tournament helped her gear up for the season. “It’s good to see the flavor of the competition this year,” she said.
Both players have their sights set on going to the State tournament this year.
“I’ll be disappointed if we don’t take State,” said Surviladze of her Sandia team. “I think we’re pretty much equal though,” said Varela of La Cueva. “We’re hungry for it.”
Surviladze said there is more pressure this year without her sister, Nina, on the team. Anna used to practice every day with Nina, who is now playing at the collegiate level.
The Sandia girls team has won the State championship the past three consecutive years.
Surviladze and Varela wanted to be interviewed together following the match.
“We get used to it,” said Surviladze when asked about playing against her best friend.
“You forget who you’re playing,” said Varela.
The boys finals match was peppered with hard-fought rallies. Beach displayed his strong net game and powerful serve. But, he ultimately caved under the more consistent play of Krzykowski.
Betsy Kryzkowski, Tyler’s Mom, said that the win was especially exciting because it was rare to beat La Cueva.
“No accolades. No limelight,” said Betsy about her son’s approach to tennis.
“[The limelight’s] okay,” said Tyler after hearing his Mom’s comments. “I’ll leave it at that.”
JENS ERIK GOULD
Jens Erik Gould is a political, business and entertainment writer and editor who has reported from a dozen countries for media outlets including The New York Times, National Public Radio and Bloomberg News.