Behar follows mom’s advice

WOODBRIDGE — Mother’s Day came and went a few weeks ago and if Osbourn Park’s Stefan Behar did not send his mom some flowers or a card, he might want to make a late run to Hallmark.

Thanks to some words of encouragement and a little advice from his mom back in San Paulo, Brazil, Behar fought off tendinitis in both arms to win the Northwest Region singles championship over Woodbridge’s Brandon Lindsley, 6-0, 6-3, Wednesday at Forest Park.

Behar, who is a foreign exchange student from Brazil, thought of not playing in the match to rest his weary arms for the upcoming state tournament, but mom convinced him otherwise.

“She told me, ‘Go and play because you are going to win,'” Behar said after the match.

So Behar played and, like mom predicted, he won, despite having both forearms taped. Behar can now add the region championship to the Cedar Run District regular-season title he won two weeks ago.

“I’m just so happy,” Behar said. “It was a really, really tough matchI was so nervous going in and am just happy that I won.”

As Lindsley hit his final ball into the net, Behar shouted “Yes!” and as he walked off the court began clapping his hands and pumped his fist in the air. He then hit a ball he took from his pocket into one of the adjacent courts at Forest Park, where a gym class had just finished.

“It was just vintage Stefan,” Osbourn Park coach Mac DeShazer said. “He was mentally in the game and all his strokes were working for him. When everything is together he is pretty tough to beat.”

Behar had little trouble in the match and won in just over an hour. He won 10 of the first 11 games of the match and never trailed, taking advantage of many Lindsley unforced errors.

“He didn’t make any errors and kept his head in the game,” Behar’s doubles partner Nate Baker said. “It came down to making [Lindsley] make more unforced errors than he did. He went at him all the time.”

Lindsley won the Cardinal District regular season championship and beat Behar 6-2, 6-7 (7-5), 6-1 during the regular season. But Behar has now won the last two matches against Lindsley –Wednesday and on May 17 in the regional quarterfinals when Woodbridge beat Osbourn Park, 5-4, to end the Jackets season.

“He came out and just put the ball in play,” Lindsley said. “He wasn’t necessarily hitting it hard, but just getting the ball in the court and I just had sloppy play. I had a lot of unforced errors and didn’t come out to play.”

Behar and Lindsley both qualify for the state tournament, which starts June 7 at L.C. Bird High School in Richmond. Behar will play the No. 2 qualifier from the Eastern Region, while Lindsley plays the No. 1 qualifier.

“I’m just going to go and get some tough practice and tough training to get ready for states,” Lindsley said. “I missed out on a lot of practice with all the rain delays coming in, so I just felt like my timing was off. It wasn’t like the regular season where we were playing all the time and I was really on my game. I was just off my game today.”

As only a sophomore, Lindsley will return next season, while Behar returns to San Paulo. Behar lived with Baker and his family the last eight months as part of a student exchange program and returns to Brazil during the first week of July.

Behar and Baker teamed up as Osbourn Park’s No. 1 doubles team, even though Baker is the Jackets No. 7 singles player. Behar went 15-1 this year and helped the Yellow Jackets finish second in the Cedar Run District behind Osbourn.

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