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Prep Tennis: County teams to show love for Kelly before looking for it on courts

May 10, 2012|By DANIEL KAUFFMAN | kauffman@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — This afternoon, 88 tennis players are scheduled to step onto North Hagerstown High School’s courts to begin play in the Washington County Public Schools Tournament.

Sadly, there’s little doubt that everyone’s mind will be on the one player missing.

Samantha Kelly — Williamsport’s No. 1 girls singles player, who went 9-4 this season — was killed in an auto accident last weekend, along with classmate Brendon Colliflower. Kelly’s funeral is scheduled for this morning.

“We are going to do a moment of silence with all the teams here later in the day,” said Hubs coach Kevin Reynolds, who will be a pallbearer in Colliflower’s funeral Saturday. “We will put tennis balls in the fence with ‘SK’ and there will be a picture of her and a memories book so people can write stuff in it.

“It’s going to be an emotional atmosphere these couple days.”

The tournament begins today at 1 p.m. with first-round and quarterfinal matchups. Semifinals will begin Saturday at 9 a.m., with the finals to follow.

Clear Spring enters as the favorite for the team titles. The Blazers swept both the boys and girls titles a year ago, and both teams went 15-0 this season and won MVAL Antietam championships.

“I told the kids (Wednesday), the first goal was met — we wanted both teams to have undefeated seasons,” Clear Spring coach Lisa Shives said. “The next goal is for everybody to make the regional tournament. We don’t want any of our kids left behind. We have 18 players going into the counties.”

Top-three finishers in each of the five divisions qualify for next weekend’s Region I Tournament at Middletown.

The Blazers have three top seeds in the county tournament — Zac O’Neal in boys singles, defending county champion Miranda Kearney in girls singles and Scott Hovermale and Andrew Shupp in boys doubles.

“The kids have worked hard for (the top seeds),” Shives said. “It’s been an extremely hard-working group.”

O’Neal (13-2) faces arguably the toughest path of any top seed. Boonsboro’s Serge Aleshin-Guendel (12-4), last year’s boys singles champion, is the second seed, Williamsport’s Anthony Adams (9-5) is the third seed and North’s Drew Brady (14-3 at No. 2 singles) is the fourth seed.

Aleshin-Guendel beat Adams in three sets for last year’s title.

In girls singles, Kearney (15-0) hasn’t dropped a set this season as she looks to repeat as county champion after stunning South Hagerstown’s Tinuke Adetunji as a major underdog in last year’s final. She’s a huge favorite this year, with Boonsboro’s Hannah Froehlich (8-8) and Clear Spring teammate Miranda Speak (14-1 at No. 2 singles) appearing to be the top challengers.

Hovermale and Shupp also are 15-0 this season for the Blazers. They are one of four teams with a bye into the boys doubles quarterfinals, along with No. 2-seed Stephen Flessner and Kyle Marshall of Williamsport; No. 3-seed Levi Bucher and Cory Caudell of Clear Spring; and No. 4-seed Logan McSherry and Matt Deal of Smithsburg.

Flessner went 12-2 at No. 2 singles, while Marshall went 10-2 at No. 1 doubles with two different partners for the Wildcats. Bucher and Caudell went 8-1 at No. 2 doubles for the Blazers. McSherry and Deal went 8-5 at No. 1 doubles for the Leopards.

Boonsboro’s Sarah Colgan and Ashlyn Hawbaker are heavy favorites as the top seed in girls doubles. The duo is 16-0 this season and are two-time county runners-up to former teammates Alice D’Alauro and Erin Scally. They also have the only bye into the quarterfinals.

Their top challengers are No. 2-seed Samantha Roberts and Kelli Wright of North (14-3), No. 3-seed Jess Barnhart and Jamie Humbertson of Clear Spring (10-3 across No. 1 and No. 2 doubles), and No. 4-seed Rachel Greenwald and Brigitte Grewe of North (12-1 across No. 2 and No. 3 doubles).

The biggest surprise in the brackets is at mixed doubles, where Reynolds paired up his two top singles players — Max Ober (17-1) and Mollie Johnson (10-7). Ober would have been the No. 1 seed and the favorite in boys singles, as he handed O’Neal his only two losses.

“We did it mostly because we think it gives our school the best chance of sending somebody to states,” Reynolds said. “That’s really it. We think Max and Mollie have a good shot. They should win counties and have a shot at regionals.”

Clear Spring’s Corey McClure (12-3 at No. 2 boys singles) and Dominique Forsman (13-1 across No. 1 and No. 2 girls doubles) are the No. 2 seed in mixed doubles.

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