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Tennis hopefuls shake their jitters

May 24, 2002|BY DAN SPEARS

dans@herald-mail.com

One thing's for sure today at the Maryland State Tennis Tournament: Williamsport's mixed doubles teams won't be rattled.

The teams of Mike Stambaugh and Katie Spoonire and Jarod Spessard and Meggie Miller get the jitters when they play other sports, or when they're on the court against each other.

No such problems in today's first two rounds: they're on opposite sides of the bracket.

"I only get nervous when I'm playing (Spessard and Miller)," Stambaugh said before Thursday's practice. "We're on the same team."

The foursome qualified for this weekend's tournament at Essex Community College by finishing 1-2 at the Region I tournament last weekend.

Miller and Spessard are making their second straight trip, Stambaugh and Spoonire go for the first time.

"This is gonna be a whole new experience for me," Spoonire said. "That's what we hear, 'It's hard.'"

Stambaugh, Spessard and Spoonire have made a tough switch to doubles after playing singles during the regular season. Add in a new partner - and of the opposite sex, no less - and things could have been strange. They're not.

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"It's kinda the same, but the competition's harder," Miller said. "But Jarod's pretty good."

The thing is, Miller and Spoonire are, too.

"They're good strong players at the net," Williamsport tennis coach Charlotte Trout said. "You can see their volleyball skills there. They are not to be ignored at the net."

And hopefully not in the bracket, either. Two wins today put the teams in Saturday's quarterfinals.

"I hope we can go down there, have fun and do well," Spoonire said.

"We want to make it to Saturday," Miller said.

- Smithsburg's David Seifarth will be making the trip to states for the first time today as well. He's competing in boys singles after finishing second in the regional.

"Things have been good, I've had a lot of good practice with my coach (Aaron Hopkins) and got to play with (former North High standout) Joe Brooks today," Seifarth said. "This is what I've trained the whole time for, so I'm psyched about it."

Seifarth enters the tournament on a high despite his first loss of the season last weekend to Liberty's Joe Ferguson. It may be his first loss, it might not be his last. But it won't matter if he goes down fighting.

"It's a great experience," Seifarth said. "To get this far is a great accomplishment. ... I'll be happy knowing I played the best I can play. Even if that doesn't get me anywhere, playing the best I can is good enough for me."

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