Producing an undefeated season is a great accomplishment for any team, but the thrill of being an unbeaten state champion perhaps is evenmore special to athletes who also compete as individuals.
SevernaPark's Katherine Hobbs and the Old Mill tandem of Brent Layman and Phil White know that feeling.
Hobbs (23-0) and Layman and White (21-0) finished the 1991 high school tennis season as state champions and have been named as the Anne Arundel County Sun's Tennis Players of the Year.
Layman and White, like Hobbs, took first in the county, district and state tournaments, capping their season with a dramatic come-from-behind upset over Wootton's Todd Unikel and Yong Park, 0-6, 6-1, 6-4.
The Patriot duo, along with county mixed doubles champs Matt Pharr and Beth Zawislak and singles player Matt Servinsky, were major components to a second-place team finish in this year's county tournament. Old Mill fell just one point shy of Severna Park, 33-32.
"This was an enjoyable season, even though we (the Old Mill team) had to forfeit a couple of matches," said Layman, who played the entire state tournament with a broken thumb. "Phil and I had a great year. We really came together toward the end."
Layman, a four-year varsity performer and a defending state 4A-3A 135-pound wrestling titlist, placed second in the 1989 singles tournament, earning him a district berth.
Last season, the University of Maryland-bound senior placed fourth in singles, behind Severna Park's Al Thomas. This year, he decided to concentrate on doubles.
The second-team coaches All-County soccer midfielder willconcentrate on wrestling next year as a walk-on, while younger brother Brian, 16, (a member of the school's varsity soccer, wrestling andlacrosse teams) will complete his senior year in all three sports.
"We have a little bit of that sibling rivalry going on between us, but it's not that serious, at least not most of the time," said Layman.
White, a lanky 16-year-old junior captain of the Patriot golf team, has known his partner for a number of years -- dating back to the second grade.
"Brent and I won the Severn Valley Summer Prince Circuit tournament two years ago, and so we're definitely not strangers to each other," he said.
"I knew that we would do well this year. We at least expected to win the county and the regionals, so we setthe semifinals of the states as our ultimate goal.
"Once we got to the semis, we took a look at the rest of the field, and we knew that from what we
saw, we could play with any of them."
A junior-varsity doubles champ as a freshman, White lost only one match last year at the No. 2 doubles position along with the now-departed Justin Figel, finishing in the quarterfinals of the 1990 county tournament.
"I think we're going to have a good team next year, too. I think weshowed in the county tournament that we're a lot better than a 6-6 (due to the four forfeited matches) team, I'm really looking forward to it," said White.
After this year's performance, Hobbs, a junior,should be chomping at the bit to start the 1992 season already.
But after a tough final against Oakland Mills Susan Clancy, 6-1, 6-4, that saw her bounce back from an sprained ankle, Maryland's third-ranked scholastic player in 1990 is more than ready to take a brief intermission.
"I'm taking off the next couple of weeks just to let my ankle heal. It feels a lot better now, but its still swollen," said Hobbs, who didn't lose a set the entire year.
The 16-year-old 1989 district semifinalist made the most of her steady baseline play to wear her opponents down all season, crediting Coach Margie Nicholson and personal coach Jim Lopez with her steady advancement over the years.
"I think I've gotten a lot stronger during my high school career, and I've become a lot more consistent. I've also grown a lot more confident as well," she said.
"Now, even if I have an off day or I'm not really in the mood to play, I know I can go out there and stilldo well, unlike my freshman year."
As for her team's reign in county tennis, Hobbs holds a guarded sense of optimism.
"I think we can win the counties again, but like this year, we're going to have toget psyched for the big matches," she said.
COUNTY TENNIS TOURNAMENTCHAMPIONS
Boys singles:.. .. .. .. .. .. Doug Neagle (Arundel), Sr.
Girls singles:.. .. .. .. .. .. Katherine Hobbs (Severna Park),Jr.
Boys doubles: .. .. .. .. .. ..Brent Layman, Phil White (Old Mill), Sr., Jr.
Girls doubles:.. .. .. .. .. .. Kirstin Schaffer, Katie Cimbolic (Annapolis), Jr., Jr.
Mixed doubles:.. .. .. .. .. .. Matt Pharr, Beth Zawislak (Old Mill), Jr., Jr.