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Armbruster turns loss into positive

June 06, 2007|by MARK KELLER

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Like any good athlete can do, Kevin Armbruster took a disappointing defeat and turned it into motivation.

By his own admission, the Martinsburg senior "messed up" in the West Virginia Region II Tennis Tournament. He finished fourth - below his expectations, but still good enough to make the state tournament.

Armbruster took advantage of the opportunity, knocking off a region winner in the first round at states and advancing all the way to the semifinals before bowing out.

His run helped earn him The Herald-Mail All-Area Boys Tennis Player of the Year honor.

"I messed up at regionals. I just wasn't on my game and wasn't focused the way I should have been," Armbruster said.

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"Kevin would tell you he kind of choked in the regional," Martinsburg coach Judy Laidlow said. "He was really upset about the loss, almost left the tournament. But he refocused and was determined to do well at states."

Armbruster nearly didn't play tennis in high school. He was a student in Laidlow's class as a freshman, and the coach had to talk him into playing.

"I played when I was younger and my older sister played, too," Armbruster said. "She had to quit playing because of a shoulder problem and I kind of gave it up around the same time.

"(Laidlow) talked to me a lot about it and I thought it'd be fun to play again."

"He has a natural ability. The aptitude was there, that was evident," Laidlow said. "He just needed a little push to get him back out there."

Armbruster finished 2007 with a 20-5 record, winning the Apple Valley League championship and making his way to the state tournament for the second straight year. He lost to the same player - George Washington's Adam White - both years at states.

"He's one of the best I've ever faced," Armbruster said. "I just couldn't compete with his skill level."

Armbruster will attend West Virginia University in the fall. The Mountaineers do not field a tennis team, but Armbruster said he will try to find a local club where he can continue to play and keep his game sharp.

"I wish I would have kept with it year round. It had always kind of been a seasonal thing with me before," Armbruster said. "But I had a good time with it regardless."

Joining Armbruster on the All-Area Boys Tennis Team:

· David Kurz, Smithsburg: Junior went 13-1 at No. 1 singles, won the Washington County singles title and finished fourth in the regional tournament.

· Daniel Mackey, Chambersburg: Just a sophomore, Mackey was one win away from advancing to the PIAA state tournament. He finished fourth in the District 3 tournament.

· Nathan Jones-Brice Barker, Jefferson: Jones (senior) and Barker (sophomore) teamed to go 26-4 and advanced to the West Virginia state quarterfinals. Jones was 18-10 at No.1 singles; Barker was 28-3 at No. 2 singles.

· Ross Anstaett-Leo Watanabe, Mercersburg Academy: Senior pair went 8-2 on the season, including victories over Jones-Barker of Jefferson and Mackey-Adam Wennick of Chambersburg. Unbeaten in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League.

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