Northeast's 64-game winning streak in softball and Severna Park's 57-game streak in girls lacrosse were snapped last week, but another team in the county is still on a major roll.
On Monday, the Severna Park tennis team extended its winning streak to 61 matches with a 9-0 shutout of 1-5 Meade. The perennial tennis power last lost to Old Mill in May 1986. Since 1987, it has garnered four straight county teamtitles.
"The streak is not a focus point at all," said Margie Nicholson, the Falcons' seven-year coach. "All of the kids work hard every day, and they come to play and take care of the business at hand. We don'twant to let the streak interfere with the way we play. We still havesome tough matches left this season."
This season, Nicholson has directed an assorted collection of experienced, tournament-tough junior circuit players and raw, talented youngsters to a county league-leading 6-0 mark, including a 7-2 win over a tough 7-1 Arundel team April 10.
"We're very short on experience, but their desire makes up for it," Nicholson said. "Arundel had much more experience than we did, but somehow, we played with so much desire and determination we found a way to win. But that won't be our only tough match. We have Broadneck (6-1) Wednesday and Old Mill (6-1) on the first of May. Both teams are going to be ready for us."
Defending county and regional champion Katherine Hobbs and county runner-up Al Thomas -- the Falcons' No. 1 girls and boys singles players, respectively -- lead their team in its quest for its fifth straight county team championship.
Hobbs, a third-place finisher in the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association state tournament last year in her sophomore year, used her superior ground strokes to pound out a 6-0, 6-0 win overthe Mustangs' Chris Kohari on Monday.
The tall right-hander, a competitive tennis player since the age of 9, placed ninth last summer in the Mid-Atlantic Tennis Association's 16-and-under division and 10th in its 18-and-under division.
The 3.6 grade-point average National Honor Society student captured the U.S. Tennis Association's Maryland 16-and-under division championship last July in Baltimore and was named to the Washington Post's All-Metropolitan team. In her six matches this year, Hobbs has yet to lose a set.
"I like to play all-year round, but I like playing during the school year better," Hobbs said. "I like the atmosphere, having the team behind you and supporting you. It gets me more motivated."
Nicholson said: "Katherine is getting stronger, both mentally and physically. She's a strong baseline player, but she's working hard on her all-court game. Her serve is OK -- it comes and goes. But as good as she is, she still has room for improvement. Her game still hasn't peaked yet."
"Margie and myother (personal) coach, Jim Lopez, have been working on bringing me to the net," said Hobbs, whose father, Richard, is the assistant coach at Old Mill. "They've also helped me out a lot on my serve and my mental toughness. I'm improving now but think I'll improve more in college.
"I'd like to go somewhere where I won't come in as the top player, but I wouldn't be the last either. Somewhere that will give methe chance to work my way into the top position."
Mount St. Mary's College has been in contact with Hobbs, who plans to major in business. But such schools as James Madison, Richmond, William and Mary, the University of North Carolina and Flagler (Fla.) College rank highest on her wish list.
Thomas, a senior, is taking his game to the next level at Towson State. The hard-hitting, soft-spoken right-hander, 18, sports a record of 5-1. His only loss came to Arundel's Doug Neagle, 7-5, 7-5.
Against the Mustangs, Thomas gutted out a three-set win over J. J. Grewe. After capturing the first set, 6-4, the defending county runner-up began rushing his shots, enabling Grewe to takethe second set, 7-5. Following a stern but barely audible pep talk by Nicholson, Thomas served and volleyed his way to a 6-0 third-set win.
"Al was beating himself in the second set, and that's not like him. He's usually the one that's in control, making the other guy make mistakes," Nicholson said.
Thomas' match would be the only one of the day that would go three sets.
Other Severna Park winners included singles players freshman Ben Rawitt and senior Suzette Popovich, the boys doubles teams of seniors Troy Brengle and Jim Hollis and sophomores Joe Laidley and Andy Smith; the girls doubles teams of junior Jill Snider and freshman Sarah Keller (replacing girls captain Petra Smeehuyzen) and freshmen Jenny Weitz and Allison Milchanowski; andthe mixed doubles tandem of senior Sonny Gill and sophomore Erica Fulton.
With the bulk of this year's team back next season and a deep junior varsity squad, the Falcons could continue their dominance intennis for quite a while.
"We just have such a solid athletic program here at Severna Park, it carries over into the tennis program," Nicholson said.
"Not only do the kids work hard on the court, but in the classroom as well. This past marking period, besides two D's, I don't think there was anyone who received less than a B. It's that kind of dedication that spills over into their tennis.
"The kids' futures are definitely ahead of them."