Blazers score county's lone win

May 24, 2008|By CHRIS CARTER

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Clear Spring doubles partners Sarah Dice and Amanda Jenkins were eliminated from the Maryland state tennis tournament Friday.

But before they left the Tennis Center at College Park, they made Blazers history.

After winning in straight sets in the first round, Dice and Jenkins became the first Clear Spring tennis players in 13 years to win a match at the state tournament, defeating Eleanor Roosevelt's Fayda Fears and Rashida Henderson 6-2, 6-3 in the first round.

Chad Gross and Krista Hoffman were Clear Spring's last winners at states. They won two mixed doubles matches before losing in the state semifinals in 1995.

Dice and Jenkins didn't get as far, though, losing in the quarterfinals.

"Hopefully it's just a building block for tennis at Clear Spring," said Shives. "It showed that even if you come from a small school, you can compete with the best competition."


Dice and Jenkins were the only Washington County players to post a win.

Smithsburg's David Kurz, North Hagerstown's Allen Sandberg and Charlie Brasher and Boonsboro's Monan Hostmann and Keith Welch all lost in the first round.

"It definitely means something to win down here," Dice said. "We still have more to learn. We have another year to get better and hopefully come back here."

After the first-round win, the Blazers' juniors were matched against the second-seeded tandem of Taylor McWilliams and Sarah Wilkinson of Cambridge-South Dorchester.

Dice and Jenkins won the first set and led 1-0 to start the second set. But the Blazers lost 12 of the last 13 games as McWilliams and Wilkinson posted a 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 win to advance to today's semifinals.

"Our net play was a big key in the second and third sets because it wasn't as good," Dice said. "Theirs was really good."

The Blazers had 13 unforced errors and only five winners in the decisive third set.

"They played a second-ranked team. The competition was extreme," Shives said. "Their opponent started getting more consistent and more aggressive as the match went."

Kurz lost for the first time this season as he dropped straight sets to Francis Scott Key's Justin Smith.

Kurz lost the opening set 6-2 -- his first set loss in 46 sets -- and faced three match points in the second set while trailing 5-4.

Smith finally outlasted Kurz with the winner.

"I was really trying to keep fighting," said Kurz of the final point that reached deuce six times. "I kept telling myself to keep going because I thought if I could have come away with that point, I would have won the match."

Smith handed Kurz his only other set loss at the start of the season, but Kurz rebounded to win that match. He couldn't repeat the performance Friday.

Kurz led 3-1 with a 40-15 lead in the fifth game of the second set, but he never closed it out after six game-point opportunities while on serve.

"That was huge. I was up 40-15 and all I had to do was hold serve," he said. "I could have been up 4-1 and in good position. I just didn't make the big points."

The match was the last as a Leopard for the senior Kurz, who ended the season at 23-1 with a sets record of 36-3.

"Obviously it hurts a lot," he said. "I kind of wish I had some tougher matches earlier in the season. I have to be able to play from up and down, and I haven't been down pretty much all year."

Sandberg and Brasher faced a rude awakening in their first-round match against Kevin Chu and Felix Sun of Churchill. Sun, a nationally ranked singles player, is a two-time state doubles champion. He and Chu were unranked because of a forfeit at the Region II Tournament.

Sandberg and Brasher fell 6-0, 6-1 -- the first time in three years as doubles partners the Hubs juniors were blanked in a set.

"They were great. They were 20 times better than anyone we've played," Sandberg said. "They deserved to win. They always attacked and kept us on our toes."

"We just got an unlucky draw," said Brasher, who served four straight points in the only game win for the Hubs.

"They just ran into a buzz saw," North coach Pete Grunberg said.

Boonsboro mixed doubles partners Hostmann and Welch fared much better but couldn't come away with a win against fourth-seeded Lamie Nguyen and Akshay Raju of River Hill.

Nguyen and Raju won 7-5, 6-7 (7-5), 6-2.

"I'll take it. It wasn't the end result (Hostmann and Welch) wanted but the fact they made it this far shows how good they were as a team," Boonsboro coach Eric Vesely said. "They matched up well against a No. 4 seed.

After holding serve during the first set, Hostmann and Welch finally broke Nguyen to take a 5-3 lead in the second set. They held on in the tiebreaker to even the match and then took a 2-0 lead in the final set.

But that was all they had left. Of the 28 River Hill points in the third set, 19 came on unforced errors.

"They got tired toward the end and it equated into mental mistakes," Vesely said. "You can't do much with that. There's nothing they could have done differently."

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