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Washington County's super 7 head to state tennis tournament

May 23, 2008|By CHRIS CARTER

Boonsboro mixed doubles partners Manon Hostmann and Keith Welch were an ocean apart just a year ago.

Now, the Warriors duo will test the waters of the Maryland State Tennis Tournament.

Hostmann and Welch are among seven Washington County players who will compete in the two-day tournament, which begins today at 10 a.m. at the Tennis Center in College Park, Md.

Smithsburg's David Kurz, North Hagerstown's Allen Sandberg and Charlie Brasher and Clear Spring's Sarah Dice and Amanda Jenkins also qualified.

"Everyone is in control of their own destiny," said Boonsboro coach Eric Vesely.

Hostmann, an exchange student from the Netherlands, qualified for the state tournament in her first attempt.

"Back home I've played tennis since I was 8 years old. It's not new to me," said Hostmann, now an 18-year-old senior. "It's a little different playing (in America), mainly the courts, but it's mostly the same."

Hostmann is from Rotterdam in South Holland and graduated from Emmaus College last year before coming to the United States in the exchange program. As a tennis player in the Netherlands she played primarily on clay, but as a prep athlete on a new continent she's had to adapt to playing on hard surfaces.

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"The hard courts are fast. It took a little while to get used to," Hostmann said. "But I like fast play, so I think I like the hard courts better."

Hostmann and Welch are 5-1 since becoming a team before the county tournament. They suffered their only loss last weekend in the Maryland Region I tennis tournament, a 6-2, 6-2 decision to Middletown's Emily and Tommy Maerz in the region final. The Maerzs are the No. 2 seed at the state tournament.

Hostmann and Welch will play River Hill's Lamie Nguyen and Akshay Raju in the first round.

"I'm kind of nervous because we didn't win at regions," Hostmann said. "We were second. I think we could have done better."

The top two mixed doubles, girls and boys doubles and girls and boys singles in each of the eight regions qualified for the state tournament. The first two rounds of the single-elimination tournament will be played today.

Kurz heads to states with a 23-0 record, which includes a 46-set win streak. He has not dropped a set since falling 6-4 to Justin Smith of Francis Scott Key on March 26 in his opener. He came back with 6-1, 6-1 sets to win the match and hasn't lost since.

Kurz and Smith will meet again in today's first round.

"David's versatile enough as a player that he's able to adjust his game," said Smithsburg coach Jason Smith. "Every day in practice he works hard and he listens. His offseason work has allowed him to improve his game from set to set."

Kurz, a senior, qualified for the state tournament at boys doubles as a sophomore and finished fourth in the region last year.

He won a region title last weekend by defeating Linganore's Mike Lesko 6-4, 6-2.

"This year I told David that we're going to get him to the state tournament. He's stuck with me," Smith said. "David is going to be a dark horse. Our region isn't really recognized as a tennis powerhouse, but we have a kid going in who's 23-0, so there's going to be some talk."

Sandberg and Brasher were the only other region champions from the county. They will play Kevin Chu and Felix Sun of Churchill in the first round.

The Hubs juniors are 14-3 this season -- their third year together -- and are making their first state tournament appearance.

"They're very competitive. They won't back down from anything," said North coach Pete Grunberg. "But they play relaxed. They don't get uptight and play each game as it comes. Both guys work very hard to get to every ball and they can be competitive (at states) if they play well."

Grunberg has scheduled a tennis party for Saturday, but it will be postponed if Sandberg and Brasher reach Saturday's semifinals.

"You just never know," Grunberg said. "What I do know is that they're both happy to be where they are."

Two-time county champions Dice and Jenkins are also making their first trip to states after a second-place finish to Thomas Johnson's Stacey Niehoff and Emily Seanez at the region tournament.

"Right now they feel like this is just icing on the cake," said Clear Spring coach Lisa Shives. "They know it's going to be tough because they'll be going against people that have been playing all their lives."

Players who advance to Saturday's semifinals will play at the University of Maryland's tennis courts adjacent to Cole Field House, starting at 10 a.m.

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