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2012 Washington County Tennis: New faces will be headliners

March 18, 2012|By DANIEL KAUFFMAN | kauffman@herald-mail.com
  • Washington County Preps Previews
Washington County Preps Previews

Winds of change are swirling around the Washington County prep tennis scene this season.

For starters, there will almost certainly be two new Herald-Mail Players of the Year when the 2012 campaign is finally in the books.

The 2011 boys player of the year, North Hagerstown’s Teddy Schoeck — who came in as a freshman in 2011 and went 13-1 at No. 1 singles before winning the Region I boys doubles title and reaching the Maryland state quarterfinals with Eric Harrison — will miss at least the majority of this season with a torn patellar tendon suffered early in the basketball season.

“It hurts,” Hubs coach Kevin Reynolds said. “(His injury) makes everyone else have to move up a spot. We’ll have a decent team still, but with him out, that’s an almost-sure win we lose.”

Boonsboro’s Alice D’Alauro and Erin Scally — who earned girls co-players of the year honors in 2011 after going 23-1 at No. 1 doubles and winning Washington County and Region I tournament titles for the second straight year — graduated, as did their two closest challengers for the award in South Hagerstown’s Tinuke Adetunji and Clear Spring’s Megan Crowl.

There’s no shortage of contenders for those coveted player of the year honors this season.

On the boys side, there’s four leading candidates: Boonsboro junior Serge Aleshin-Guendel, the reigning county tournament singles champion who finished 15-6 in 2011; Clear Spring senior Zac O’Neal, who went 11-5 at No. 1 singles before winning county and region mixed doubles titles with Megan Crowl last year; Saint James senior Boudi El Gohary, who went 9-6 overall and 7-5 in the ultra-tough Mid-Atlantic Conference, earning All-MAC first-team honors; and Williamsport senior Anthony Adams, who went 18-6 at No. 1 singles last year, handing Schoeck his only singles loss in the regular season before taking second at the county tournament and third in the region.

The girls side has three top challengers: Clear Spring senior Miranda Kearney went 21-1 playing mostly No. 2 singles in 2011 and shocked Adetunji in the county tournament final; Williamsport senior Sam Kelly went 14-8 at No. 1 singles and finished third in the county tournament; and a newcomer, Saint James senior Sara Worth Hodges, transferred from Rocky Mountain (N.C.), where she was 15-2 at No. 1 singles last year. Hodges plans to attend UNC-Wilmington in the fall — where she has been asked to try out for the team — and her family is filled with talented players.

Clear Spring, North Hagerstown and Williamsport shared the MVAL Antietam boys team title with 12-2 league records in 2011, with the Blazers capturing the Washington County Tournament team title. The Wildcats appear to have the most depth returning and are the odds-on favorite to win the Antietam title this season.

“We’re looking to do well in the MVAL,” Williamsport coach Josh Grace said. “We start with North, so we’ve got to start out quick and get that win and keep it going.”

Boonsboro won the Antietam girls team title with a 13-1 league record on strength of its doubles teams going a combined 41-1 in league matches last year. Seniors Sarah Colgan and Ashlyn Hawbaker move up from No. 2 doubles to No. 1 this season, but otherwise it’s a mostly new lineup for new coach Adam McDonald, and the Antietam title appears to be up for grabs. Clear Spring won last year’s county tournament team title.



BOYS TENNIS

Boonsboro

In addition to Aleshin-Guendel’s return at No. 1 singles, senior David Heim and junior Nathan Weirich return as a team after playing No. 1 doubles last year.

“Serge is looking very solid and I think Anthony Adams is his competition this year,” McDonald said. “Nathan and David are both real consistent players and I’m pretty sure they’ll be our No. 1 doubles.”

Freshman Zack El-Mohandes has won the No. 2 singles spot, while the rest of the doubles spots are to be determined. Junior Chase Remsburg played at No. 2 doubles in 2011. Four more juniors — Sam D’Alauro, Rami Yanes, Awais Malik and Josh Barnhart — should see time in the lineup.

“Zack is real solid. He’s mostly a long-term project and we’re going to get him experience,” McDonald said. “Hopefully by the time he’s a junior, he can step in where Serge leaves off. ... As far as competition goes, being my first year, we’re just taking a longer look at all of them.”

Clear Spring

The Blazers should have another solid squad this season, even with the loss of Tyler Brown and Gavin Myers at No. 1 doubles — where they went 19-1 and won the county tournament title in 2011.

O’Neal returns at No. 1 singles, and junior Levi Bucher tentatively has the No. 2 singles spot, although coach Lisa Shives said that could change frequently.

“Zac is capable of doing great things this season. He’s going to compete with anybody,” Shives said. “Levi is kind of new at the game — last year was his first year — but once he gets some matches under his belt, he’ll do fine.”

Seniors Scott Hovermale and Andrew Shupp are penciled in for No. 1 doubles and senior Cory Caudell and junior Corey McClure will likely play No. 2 doubles — where McClure went 12-3 a year ago. The No. 3 doubles spots are up for grabs, with senior Ralph Weaver, junior Nick Brandt and sophomores Zach Robertson, Johnny Henesy and Jacob Ernst in the running.

“I see this team really improving a lot as the season goes on,” Shives said. “Scott and Andrew have really surprised me with how well they’re playing. They evidently practiced a lot in the offseason. (Caudell and McClure) will challenge a lot for first doubles. On any given day, they can take that themselves. The third doubles race will keep everyone on their toes.”

North Hagerstown

In Schoeck’s injury absence, junior Max Ober takes over the No. 1 singles spot. Ober went 12-3 at No. 1 doubles with Max Psillas (who graduated) in 2011, finishing third in the county tournament. Junior Drew Brady won the battle to play No. 2 singles.

“Max has really improved. We did a round robin, and there were five guys who wanted the singles,” Reynolds said. “Drew played singles last year in the county tournament and did really well. He’s just a good all-around player and he much prefers singles, so that helps with his motivation.”

Seniors Ross Eastman III and Niklas Grahn are at No. 1 doubles, with junior Caleb Lyle and freshman Clay Smith at No. 2 doubles. Two teams — junior Conner Troxell and sophomore Jaren Kline, and seniors Tevin Snell and Teddy Beachley — were in competition for the No. 3 doubles spot.

“Ross has improved more in the last year than I’ve ever seen anybody improve at tennis in that period of time,” Reynolds said. “He was fighting for one of the singles spots. He would have been third singles if we played it. Caleb is moving up from third doubles, and Clay plays a lot of tennis and has a lot of potential. Those other two teams are neck and neck and will probably fight for third doubles all season long.”

Saint James

Saints coach David O’Connell welcomes all four of his singles players back in El Gohary, senior Emmett Orfan, senior Hussein Faridi and junior Thomas Rocca.

“I think one of our goals this year is to win the IPSL,” O’Connell said. “We’re in there with Goretti, Mercersburg, St. John’s Catholic and Bishop Walsh. We want to win that tournament. ... We have six of our varsity players returning, six of our top eight, and a couple new guys who are looking really good and really competitive.”

Six sophomores are currently penciled in for the doubles spots: Jeff Lee and James Chang at No. 1, Chester Collins and Scotty Manesh at No. 2 and Kevin Eun and Daniel Pike at No. 3. Senior David Prehn and sophomore Dong Kim should get some playing time.

“My goal is to make my players the best they can be and take the talent I have and make the most out of it,” O’Connell said.

Smithsburg

Leopards coach Kurt Conaway has some experience returning. Senior Corey Scharenbroch is back at No. 1 singles (he was 5-9 last year), seniors Matt Deal and Logan McSherry return at No. 1 doubles (they were 9-8 a year ago), and junior Josh Lee and sophomore Young Chin will play either No. 2 or No. 3 doubles (they were 8-7 at No. 3 in 2011).

“Corey’s added a couple more dimensions to his game,” Conaway said. “He’s played winter tennis and has dedicated a lot of time to getting better. He got a taste of reality going against those top-notch players last year and he’s hungry. ...  The thing about Deal and McSherry is they’ve always had to play one spot higher than they should have. If they’d have played No. 2 doubles last year they’d have been close to undefeated. There’s high aspirations there. They have a goal to make it to regionals and make the county tournament final. That’s their first goal.”

Senior Christian Grosh is the favorite to win the No. 2 singles spot, although sophomore Usman Qadri is challenging for it. Whoever doesn’t get it will play doubles. Junior Jacob Dwyer and his younger brother, freshman Adam Dwyer, also will play doubles.

“Christian prefers singles and can excel at singles if he gets that spot,” Conaway said. “Usman’s been a real surprise. He was always a pretty decent exhibition player last year. He’s been on the outside waiting, but he’s got some talent and is showing promise.”

St. Maria Goretti

Although Gaels coach Al McGarity lost two talented players in Max Agbayani and Zack Fawaz, the cupboard is still well-stocked.

Senior Aaron Hawk — who went 10-3 playing anywhere from No. 2 to No. 4 singles a year ago — jumps to No. 1 this year, with junior Aaron Snook at No. 2 and challenging Hawk for top honors. Senior Rodrigo Reyna is at No. 3 singles and junior Bryce Reeder is at No. 4 singles.

“Aaron (Snook) has played a lot of competition all year. He actually won his age group in the indoor tennis tournament over the Christmas holiday,” McGarity said. “The singles players have a lot of experience, three or four years.”

Snook and Reeder will team up at No. 1 doubles, where they went 9-3 a year ago. Hawk and Reyna will play No. 2 doubles, and senior Mateo Pelja and sophomore Simon Wroblewski are penciled in at No. 3 doubles. Sophomore Ozair Waseem could see action.

“(Snook) and Bryce have been playing together for years, so I expect them to be very strong in the doubles,” McGarity said. “Mateo is a master doubles player, he loves doubles and is very smart and a great athlete. Simon is really coming on, and Ozair’s not far behind. Since we play a four singles/three doubles format, if we can win a couple of the singles, we should do really well in the doubles. Our top two teams are really strong.”

South Hagerstown

The Rebels will shake things up this year, although not at No. 1 singles, which sophomore Kevin Henson has a firm grasp on. He went 6-13 in 2011 but took fourth place at the county tournament.

“Kevin got real serious last year about tennis,” South coach Jason Kamler said. “He was more of a basketball kid, but he took a real shine to tennis and he’s worked real hard to get ready for this season. I’m already seeing the results.”

Senior Timmy Winston won the No. 2 singles spot over sophomore Andrew Rose, who will play No. 1 doubles with senior George Canova. Winston and Canova teamed up at No. 1 doubles last year.

“I figured (Winston and Canova) would team up again, but Timmy wanted to play singles and he beat up on Andrew,” Kamler said. “It’s just a case of the veteran player out-gaming the younger player. Andrew worked real hard in the summer and I kind of expected he’d be the one, but Timmy just played smart.”

Sophomores Hunter Gift and Julian Miller are penciled in at No. 2 doubles, while senior Eric Sprecher will play at No. 3 doubles with one of two freshmen — Brady Nutter or Vincent Angelo Hael.

Williamsport

Grace has to feel confident in four of his five spots, as the Wildcats return a wealth of experience — led by Adams at No. 1 singles.

“Anthony’s definitely excited,” Grace said. “Serge (Aleshin-Guendel) always puts up a good fight against him. He’s excited to get going. He wants to try to go undefeated. He’s been working hard in the offseason and has increased his ability.”

Junior Stephen Flessner is back at No. 2 singles, where he went 17-4 last year before taking third at the county tournament.

“Stephen’s so consistent that it doesn’t matter what his opponent brings against him,” Grace said. “He gets the ball back over the net and that’s his game.”

Seniors Kyle Marshall and Ryan Corgard will team up at No. 1 doubles — they went a combined 34-7 with different partners last year — and seniors Stephen Longnecker and Matt Stemper will team up at either No. 2 or No. 3 doubles after going 10-6 at No. 3 doubles in 2011. Junior Jeremy White and sophomore Wornden Ly are at No. 3 doubles and could challenge Longnecker and Stemper for the No. 2 spot.

“We have the lucky problem of having the two teams fighting it out for second doubles,” Grace said. “Both of those teams can probably handle whoever they’re going to be facing.

“The big thing is to do well at counties and regionals. We didn’t do well at that last year, so we’ve got to keep up the intensity.”



GIRLS TENNIS

Boonsboro

Junior Hannah Froehlich — who went 15-1 at No. 3 doubles with Cindy Poling in 2011 — will make the jump all the way to No. 1 singles. Junior Amanda Kerr is at No. 2 singles.

Seniors Sarah Colgan and Ashlyn Hawbaker move up to No. 1 doubles after going 19-2 at No. 2 doubles last year. They have finished second at the county tournament in each of the past two seasons, losing to former teammates Alice D’Alauro and Erin Scally both times.

Poling, a junior, will team up with junior Yukiko Shinoda at second doubles.

“When we got Yukiko, she is a new student and we wanted to pair her up with Cindy,” McDonald said. “I hate to break (Froehlich and Poling) up, but of the two we thought Hannah would be the stronger singles player.”

The third doubles team is up in the air, with seniors Megan Humphrey and Courtney Bradford, junior Kendra Laster and freshmen Dana Getka and Emily Benson in the mix.

Clear Spring

Though Crowl — who went 16-1 at No. 1 singles last year before winning county and region mixed doubles titles with O’Neal — graduated, the Blazers should field a very solid squad.

Kearney leads the way at No. 1 singles. Senior Dominique Forsman will likely play No. 2 singles after going 13-3 at No. 2 doubles with Miranda Speak a year ago — although Speak, a senior, is not out of the running for that singles spot.

“Miranda (Kearney) is just a consistent player who makes very few unforced errors and very little gets past her,” Shives said. “She likes to win and she really has the personality that if she does down, she’s not going down easy. Dominique has really improved since last year and her or Speak, whoever gets that spot, will do a nice job.”

Speak and junior Cayla Garner are currently slotted at No. 1 doubles. Seniors Jamie Humbertson and Jess Barnhart are at No. 2 doubles, and two teams are vying for third doubles: Juniors Samantha Michael and Abby Pinkham, and freshmen Zoie O’Neal and Isabel Forsman. Michael went 11-5 at No. 3 doubles last year.

“Cayla is a very committed player, she’s almost every night the last one off the court,” Shives said. “She did track last year and she’s a pretty good athlete. Jamie and Jess are raw talents and very fast learners, and we expect them to improve as the season goes on. I was very impressed with the two freshmen. They’ll go back and forth with Abby and Sam for that third spot.”

North Hagerstown

Senior Mollie Johnson will take a step up to No. 1 singles after going 6-6 at the No. 2 spot a year ago. Sophomore Maddie Dunn is currently penciled in at No. 2 singles.

“Mollie played doubles and singles last year and moved up because Laura (Wagner) is gone,” Reynolds said. “She’s another one who really improved over the winter. I think she’ll do pretty well. Mollie’s been barely beating Maddie, so Maddie should be really good at No. 2 singles.”

Seniors Samantha Roberts and Kelly Wright will play No. 1 doubles — they went a combined 21-7 with different partners in 2011. Senior Ashleigh McCoy will team with junior Emily Irwin at No. 2 doubles, and seniors Rachel Greenwald and Brigitte Grewe are at No. 3 doubles. Greenwald went 11-3 at No. 3 doubles with Wright last year.

“Roberts and Wright should be really good. Kelly’s improved and Sam’s just a really good player,” Reynolds said.

Saint James

How’s this for a family pedigree: Hodges’ father played at Wake Forest and is a coach; her uncle played at Elon and her aunt played at N.C. State.

“It’s very unusual for Saint James to take seniors, but it worked out,” Saints coach Sabina Spicher said. “Sara wanted a little bit different tennis experience. She’s done well playing USTA in the fall and did clinics all winter long.”

Senior Rose Chiumento is at No. 2 singles, where she went 7-2 in 2010 before missing most of last season with a wrist tendon injury.

“Rose beat some people last year playing left-handed in exhibitions,” Spicher said. “To watch someone do that is mind-blowing to me.”

Sophomore Candace Yang is at No. 3 singles, while junior Sarah DeWitt is at No. 4 singles.

“Candace and Sarah have been playing all winter long, so I’m really happy about my singles this season,” Spicher said. “Last year I was not confident in singles, but this year I’m really happy.”

Juniors Rida Faridi and Aiman Siddiqui will play No. 1 doubles, while the other two doubles spots tentatively belong to senior Anna Beckett and freshman Evie Hammer (No. 2 doubles), and juniors Tessa Thomas and Suzie McKelvey (No. 3 doubles).

“We’ve got to work on the doubles, but that’s my specialty,” Spicher said.

Smithsburg

The Leopards lost No. 1 singles player Jennifer Gerold, an exchange student who’s back in Germany after going 11-8 and earning All-County honors as a junior in 2011.

Senior Emily Seifarth takes over the No. 1 singles spot — she went 6-1 in limited duty at No. 2 singles a year ago. Almost every other position is yet to be determined.

“Emily has the most talent and experience,” Conaway said. “We lost all of our seniors and Jennifer was an exchange student, so we have seven varsity spots to fill, and that will be quite a challenge.”

Sophomore Randi Leydig will play No. 1 doubles. Other players who will fill out the roster include senior Mara Dennis, juniors Katelyn Hastings, Sarah Kretzer and Kayla Griffith, and sophomores Alyssa White, Azka Tariq, Fatima Zia and Attiya Latif.

“It’s all going to shake out, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I have a different starting lineup all year,” Conaway said. “We’re just so young and raw other than Emily. Emily has high hopes this year. This is her chance to really own it, and it’s her team. Hopefully she rises to the occasion.”

St. Maria Goretti

Senior Ashley Robinson (No. 1 singles) and junior Laura Winalski (No. 2 singles) give the Gaels a solid start. Robinson went 8-6 at No. 1 singles a year ago, Winalski went 7-6 at No. 2 singles and they teamed to go 4-4 at No. 1 doubles, which they will play again.

“Ashley’s played for me all four years and just loves tennis,” McGarity said. “She played for our Junior Team Tennis team with Laura and then played indoors this winter, so her confidence level is higher. She’s used to the competition.”

Sophomore Lauren Clopper is at No. 3 singles, while the No. 4 singles spot is up for grabs between seniors Annie Cochran and Bronta Salgado, junior Monica Divinagracia and sophomore Kristen Downing. The No. 2 and No. 3 doubles teams also have yet to be finalized.

“We’ve got a little more depth and experience. All these girls are into it and are fighting for positions, and there’s a little more passion than last year, so that’s exciting and makes it fun,” McGarity said.

South Hagerstown

The departure of Adetunji — who went 20-4 at No. 1 singles, won the Region I title and reached the state quarterfinals — definitely hurts. This will be a learning year for the Rebels.

“It’s a pretty young team and we’re going to take our lumps, I think,” Kamler said.

Junior Madeleine Niang is at No. 1 singles and a freshman, Alisha Adkins, claimed the No. 2 singles spot. The doubles teams could change all season, with seniors Jessica Madden, Alana Picard and Carissa Funk, junior Lisa Schuler and sophomores Grace Porter and Nicole Goodnaugh being the primary candidates.

“Madeleine has worked hard and has gotten a lot better,” Kamler said. “Alisha is the one I’m excited about. She hasn’t played much tennis before picking up a racket this year, and she gave Madeleine a run for her money in a challenge match. She’s not (Adetunji) yet, but she has a lot of promise.”

Williamsport

The Wildcats have one of the county’s top returnees back in senior Sam Kelly, who will play No. 1 singles.

“With Sam, it’s all about just staying focused,” Grace said. “She has all her volleyball stuff, too, so it’s about focus and when she’s on, she’s great.”

The No. 2 singles spot is being contested between sophomores Jordan Shoemaker and Elsie Martinez, one of whom will take over a doubles spot. As for now, seniors Jessica Mies and Casee Cornett are at No. 1 doubles, senior Cassie Wollard and junior Cheyenne Moore are at No. 2 doubles and sophomore Jodeci Albertson will likely be part of the No. 3 doubles team.

“Jordan has improved way more than anyone else on the team, and she hasn’t really done any camps or anything, she just grew into it,” Grace said. “She’ll be able to do a little bit at second singles if she gets that spot. Jess and Casey play well together. Cassie also is playing much better for her senior year.

“Boonsboro, Clear Spring, North, it’s definitely stiff competition for the girls, but our main goal is to do way better than last year. We want to be more consistent. I think we have the group to do it.”

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