During the past couple of weeks, rotten luck has plagued Old Mill's attempt to end Severna Park's dominance of the county tennis courts.
Less than two weeks ago, the Patriots just missed ending the Falcons' five-year regular season dual-match win streak, losing, 5-4. A couple of days later, Coach Randy Stevens' team was forced to forfeit four matches because of a complicated seeding rule.
Friday, in the boys singles semifinals of the county tennis tournament, lightning struck once more. Second-seeded Matt Servinsky was forced to default his boys singles match against third seed Wade Berusch of Broadneck because of severe cramps. At the time, Servinsky was leading in the final set, 5-1. Little did the Patriots know then, butthe match would play an important part in the final standings of theteam competition the next day.
And when the smoke cleared, Severna Park claimed its fourth team championship in the past five years, edging the Patriots, 33-32, at Anne Arundel Community College.
"This really feels good," Coach Margie Nicholson said. "This is just icing on the cake. It was incredible just winning all of our dual matchesthis year, but this just feels great."
Had Servinsky been able tofinish his match with a win, Old Mill would have been awarded three points and overtaken the eventual winners.
"All Matt needed was two more points and he would have won the match," said Stevens, who guided the Pats to the 1989 team title. "I feel really sad for Matt, butI guess the officials thought that he didn't have what it took to finish the match."
Servinsky's opponent also sympathized. "It's too bad that it had to happen that way," said Berusch, whose team placed third in the team standings with 22 points, one ahead of fourth-placeArundel. "But he really looked bad. We were at deuce in the final game, and when he went to serve, his knees just gave in. . . . I wasn'tfeeling that well myself -- we both had played in the quarterfinals earlier in the day with just a 30-minute break before the start of our match. My hands were cramping up so bad that I had to pry them opena couple of times."
The talented junior went on to Saturday's final against Arundel's undefeated Doug Neagle. The senior prevailed, 6-3, 0-6, 6-3.
"It was a pretty tough match," Neagle said. "I was trying to hit the ball as hard as I could; I just went for everything. I think I'll probably wind up seeing Wade or Matt again next week (inthe district tournament)."
Servinsky will be the county's third representative to the four-county (Harford, Carroll, Anne Arundel and Howard) tourney, by virtue of his 6-1, 6-2 triumph over Severna Park's Al Thomas.
Katherine Hobbs downed Arundel's Jen Whitley, 6-2, 6-2, to take the girls singles crown, while Chesapeake's Stacy Jenkins took a bronze medal.
"Like I said before, I expected Katherine to win," Nicholson said. "But no one else took first for us, and we still managed to come out on top."
In boys doubles action, the Old Mill duo of Brent Layman and Phil White took first, dropping Chesapeake's Tim Marshall and Mark Meyer, 6-2, 6-2, while North County's Jesse Haslip and Chuckie Griffith downed the Falcons' Troy Brengle and Jim Hollis, 6-1, 7-5, to earn a district berth.
The Patriots also won asecond title, thanks to the mixed doubles tandem of Matt Pharr and Beth Zawislak, who downed top-seeded Matt Atwood and Angie Manifold ofSouthern, 7-6, 7-5. John Jeffords and Judy Tucker placed third with their 6-2, 6-1 consolation triumph over Severna Park's Sonny Gill andJill Snider.
Annapolis representatives Kirsten Schaffer and KatieCimbolic turned back Broadneck's Anne Weston and Karen Williamson, 6-4, 6-0, in the finals of the girls doubles, as Tracy Zettle and Stacey Parkinson of 3A/2A regular-season champ South River garnered third.
Chesapeake was fifth in the team standings, followed by South River (13), Southern (12), Annapolis and North County (10), Meade (4) and Northeast and Glen Burnie (3).
BY: John Harris III