As the workers at the nearby construction site pounded away, two of the state's best in men's tennis pounded ground stroke after ground stroke in yesterday's final of the Maryland State Hardcourt Championships at St. Paul's School.
The match began with even exchanges between two players who happen to be practice partners.
For every volley Mike Castrilli angled away, Mike Clark stroked a passing shot down the line.
The first game of the match went to deuce twice; the second game, four times.
Regardless of the equilibrium of ability, No. 2 seed Castrilli defeated No. 1 seed Clark, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), for the title.
"Whenever Mike and I play, it is always a tight match," Castrilli said. "It makes for an exciting match."
Castrilli, 21, won the hourlong first set, but not without a scare, as Clark's attempt at a passing shot hit the top of the net but failed to clear.
"I think the first set is real important when we play each other," Castrilli said. He led 4-1 in the second, but Clark, 22, rallied to take a 5-4 lead.
"He hit some real good shots when I was up 4-1," Castrilli said. Serving at 4-5, Castrilli held to tie at 5-5. With Clark serving at 5-5, 40-0, both players lost track of the score and Clark asked the crowd for the correct score.
"I didn't want to cheat him, but I also didn't want to cheat myself," Clark said to the 15 spectators.
Castrilli held serve at 5-6 to force a tie-breaker. He did not lose a point in the tie-breaker on his service.
"I never like going into tie-breakers," Castrilli said.
"He played well," Clark said.