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County winless in state tennis

May 27, 2006|by DAN KAUFFMAN

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - North Hagerstown's Sarah Macht and Justin Harris played in a mixed doubles match that had it all Friday afternoon at the Maryland state tennis tournament.

Three sets. Plenty of emotion. Even two locations - rain forced the move from the outdoor courts next to University of Maryland's Cole Field House to the indoor courts at the Tennis Center at College Park, a couple miles away.

All it was missing was a Hubs victory.

Macht and Harris battled, but ultimately fell 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 to Francis Scott Key's Erika Mastalerz and Justin Smith in the first round.

It was a familiar result for Washington County competitors, who finished 0-4 on the day. While disappointment was the word of the day, for the most part just participating in the state tournament was award enough.

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"We had a great season," said Macht, who won county and regional mixed doubles titles with Harris. "I can't believe we made it to states."

"We did better than I ever thought we would," Harris said.

Macht and Harris were the only county competitors to push their match to three sets. After watching a 4-2 first-set lead disappear, the second set appeared to be going in the same direction, with Mastalerz and Smith getting a break of serve to pull even at 5-5.

Undaunted, Macht and Harris broke Mastalerz and Smith right back for a 6-5 lead, with Harris unleashing the first of several emotional outbursts. Another one came when he held his own serve in the next game to wrap up the set.

"I was trying to get myself pumped," Harris said. "It took a while to get into it, and I knew I had to show some emotion to get into the third set. Then (Smith) started showing some emotion of his own and started coming after me. ... The emotion of it was fun."

Mastalerz and Smith kicked their game into another gear in the third set, quickly taking a 3-0 lead and cruising to victory.

"I guess we were a little too confident going into it," Macht said. "I lost a little bit of focus, and that's the No. 1 thing in tennis, you have to keep your mind stable."

"They're both very competitive and great kids," Hubs coach Frank McAdoo said. "It's a shame they couldn't go on, but they had a great time."

North senior Vincent Schoeck - the only county player who made states in singles - found some chinks in the armor of Pikesville's Paul Burgin, but could never turn them into a gaping hole. Burgin, the shorter player, was the more consistent, returning almost everything Schoeck threw at him, and that was enough for him to get a 6-4, 6-4 victory.

"He was a human backboard," said Schoeck, who finished his season 16-2 and is a three-time county boys singles champion. "He got all my balls back."

Schoeck found success when he was able to get to the net - putting his reach and volleying touch to good use - but those opportunities were few and far between, with Burgin ripping deep baseline drives.

"He was tough to get in on," Schoeck said. "He was hitting a lot of deep balls and keeping me on the baseline. ... It's a great way to end my senior year. I'm very pleased. This is probably the best season I've had."

Smithsburg's boys doubles team of Derek Kretzer and David Kurz, and Clear Spring's mixed doubles team of Megan Blickenstaff and Andrew Beadle, both were victims of extremely difficult first-round draws.

Kretzer and Kurz fell to Churchill's top-seeded duo of Andrew Marcus and Felix Sun, 6-0, 6-0.

"It was definitely fun," Kretzer said. "It was a good experience to see all these good players. ... (Marcus and Sun) knew how to play. They had clean strokes."

"When we were paired together for counties, we hoped to win counties and get far in regionals," Kurz said. "We weren't sure what to expect. To get the chance to play here, it's a cool experience."

Blickenstaff and Beadle made Blazers history by just making it to states.

"They're only the second team in Clear Spring history to make it to states," Blazers coach Lisa Shives said. "They're in an elite group at Clear Spring."

Their 6-1, 6-2 loss to River Hill's Katie Sheliga and Matt Davidson, who were seeded second, failed to diminish their accomplishment.

"It's just an honor to be here," said Blickenstaff, a senior. "We really didn't expect to do as well at regionals as we did. Tennis really wasn't my first sport, but it's the one I did the best in. This really capped my high school career."

"It was just fun," said Beadle, a junior. "It was overwhelming. I didn't know what to expect with the nerves and everything."

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