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Grahn, Wagner follow roles to follow dreams

May 23, 2010|By BOB PARASILITI

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    FREDERICK, Md. -- In a way, North Hagerstown's Laura Wagner and Andreas Grahn are the perfect mixed doubles team.

    They are two tennis players competing as one in mind and body. And admittedly, she's the brains and he's the brawn.

    That simple act of role playing helped propel Grahn and Wagner to a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Clear Spring's Zac O'Neal and Megan Crowl on Saturday to win the Maryland Region I Championships at Baker Park.

    "I try to stay positive and we get aggressiveness from him," said Wagner. "That's our formula."

    The mixture came through when needed in the critical eighth game of the first set when Grahn and Wagner broke Crowl's serve in a 20-minute game.

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"That was an important game," said North coach Pete Grunberg. "Just before that game, I called them over and told Andreas to be more aggressive. They needed to be more patient and limit their mistakes."

The two mixed doubles teams will be the only representatives at the state tournament next weekend. With the victory, Grahn and Wagner assured themselves a higher seed and a chance to advance to the semifinals.

"We came into this season with high expectations," Grahn said. "Last year, we finished second in the region and got wiped out in the first round (of states). We knew we would be teaming together again since the beginning of the year."

The other five county representatives lost in the semifinals, but three of them won their consolation matches to earn alternate status for next week's tournament. If any of the top two region teams are unable to play at states, the consolation winners will be invited as replacements.

South Hagerstown's Tinuke Adetunji was the county's only singles player to place. The third-seeded Adetunji lost 7-6 (8-6), 6-3 to eventual girls singles champion Ana Chernova of Tuscarora. She came back to defeat Tuscarora's Stacy Brewbaker 6-1, 6-2 to take third.

North Hagerstown's third-seeded boys doubles team of Eric Harrison and Greg Harrison lost 6-4, 6-3 to unseeded Brandon Danganan and Bobby Leonard of Walkersville. They bounced back with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Clear Spring's Danny Mott and Gavin Myers.

Boonsboro's girls doubles team of Alice D'Alauro and Erin Scally defeated Clear Spring's Miranda Kearney and Becky Schrimsher 6-3, 6-2 in the consolation match. The top seeds lost 6-3, 6-3 to Fort Hill's Tasha Dunlap and Nikki Absher, the eventual champs, in the semis.

North finished tied for fourth with Walkersville in the team standings with seven points. Clear Spring was sixth (five points), while Boonsboro and South Hagerstown finished in a three-way tie for eighth (one).

Grahn and Wagner trailed 3-2 in the first set with Crowl serving. The two teams traded deuce and advantages until the Hubs broke through, drawing an emphatic yell from Grahn.

"I'd say that was a big game for us," Wagner said. "If you know you can stay in it, you know you have a chance."

Grahn and Wagner quickly won the last two games to close out the first set and gave themselves an advantage by winning the first two of the second set.

Both teams had trouble holding serve in the second set, but the Hubs took a 4-3 lead and closed out the match.

"It's a big win for them," Grunberg said. "Now they will be getting a better seed for the tournament. They will be going down to states and have been there before. They want to win in the first round and go from there, taking it one match at a time. That's the way they played in the county and regional tournament."

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