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Maryland native, Frances Tiafoe celebrates 21st birthday with a spot in the Australian Open quarterfinals

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Maryland native, Frances Tiafoe celebrates 21st birthday with a spot in the Australian Open quarterfinals

Thursday, Jan 20, 2019 was a big day for Frances Tiafoe. The strong bodied tennis player from Maryland turned 21 and he also burst his way into the Australian Open quarterfinals.

Tiafoe beat the No. 20 seed Grigor Dmitrov 7-5, 7-6(6), 6-7(1), 7-5 on Thursday to put himself into a major quarterfinal for the first time in his career. 

He is the final American male in the draw and now has a date set with the No. 2 seed, and 17-time major champion, Rafael Nadal. 

Not only a fan-favorite of the DMV, Tiafoe is turning into a favorite in Australia. For the past three rounds, each win has given those in attendance a LeBron James-themed celebration.

When he beat the No. 5 seed Kevin Anderson for the biggest win of his career:

When he broke into the Round of 16 for the first time ever:

And his latest:

The Hyattsville native entered the tournament at No. 39 in the world. Based on his performances so far, he will jump up to a career-high 27th. 

His matchup against Nadal will be the first time that he battles the Spaniard. 

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Virginia's first LLWS appearance in 25 years rests on defense, luck and pitching depth

Virginia's first LLWS appearance in 25 years rests on defense, luck and pitching depth

The last time a Virginia team qualified for a spot at the Little League World Series was 1994. This was also the year Disney released the original Lion King and Forrest Gump made his monumental run around the United States. 

Twenty-five years later, the Loudon South Little League team will be making their run (or hopefully, runs) around the bases. 

It all started back in South Riding, Va., where the team won 16 consecutive games to take the Southeast Region tournament title. Pitcher Justin Lee fell to his knees after the final out of game 16, where Loudoun South dominated Peachtree City, Ga. 12-2, and advanced themselves to the Little League World Series. 

Led by head coach Alan Bowden, this experience had been a dream for both the players and the coach. Bowden's father played in the Little League World Series 65 years ago, he's told reporters, and he told PennLive that now coaching his son in the tournament is a dream.

“I know I talk with my dad about his experience a couple times a year,” Bowden told PennLive. “Just being here and meeting all these international teams and other teams from around the country is really special.”

The team entered their first LLWS game against New England's Barrington Little League team on Friday, August 16th. With tenacity and what appeared to be just sheer coolness, the Southeast regional champions completed the 52nd no-hitter in LLWS history, crushing the Rhode Island team 3-0

Bowden credited the team's defense and depth according to LittleLeague.org.

“We pride ourselves in defense,” he said. “We practice, practice, practice defense and we feel like the real staple of our team is defense.”

Loudoun South didn't stop there. Lee returned to the mound and completed the 53rd no-hitter in LLWS history, striking out six and walking only two. The game ended shortly after as Lee and the team reached the Little League's margin-of-victory rule. 

“I have no words. It’s just, I guess sometimes you get lucky, and this week has been very fortunate for me,” Lee said according to the Washington Post after the victory. “I’ve been getting to meet a lot of cool people. This whole thing, being here is all great, and getting to throw two no-hitters feels amazing.”

The Virginia team's next matchup will be against West champions Hawaii. Central East Maui baseball team most recently completed a 6-0 victory over Elizabeth, N.J. on Monday.

"I'm really really proud of the kids. The way they've executed and the way they've pushed down the media and the big crowd and just gone out and done their job," Bowden told reporters after their last win. "I have told them, you know look around enjoy the moment this is the biggest game of your life but it's still the same game you play back at home ... and they've done a fantastic job of staying focused. And I've never been prouder of a group of kids."

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Justin Lee throws no-hitter to lead Loudoun South in dominant Little League World Series win

Justin Lee throws no-hitter to lead Loudoun South in dominant Little League World Series win

The first team from Virginia to make the Little League World Series in 25 years is certainly making the most of its opportunity. Loudoun South threw its second no-hitter in as many games in a dominant 11-0 win over the Midwest Region champion out of Minnesota on Sunday.

Justin Lee enjoyed another dominant start. In the team’s first win on Friday, Lee pitched 2.2 innings in the combined no-hitter. On Sunday, he was able to go the distance. Lee pitched the full four innings with six strikeouts and two walks in 54 pitches.

As dominant as the pitching was, however, the bats were there to match.

Loudoun South did not wait long to take control. A double by Liam Thyen in the first inning brought in three runs giving the team a 3-0 lead they would never relinquish. A five-run second inning further cemented the dominant lead.

The bats were hot all day for Loudoun South who finished with nine total hits in just four innings. Thyien finished the game with five RBIs.

With the win, Loudoun South advances to within one game of the United States Championship. They will play the winner of the West and Mid-Atlantic champs on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.