The recent Maryland Junior Tennis Championships proved that nice guys don't always finish last.
The Carlson trio, Andrew, 13, Lindsey,12, and Rebecca, 10, of Annapolis, all finished among the top four in their respective divisions at the state tourney, conducted at Baltimore County's McDonogh School on Aug. 11-16.
After finishing a stellar week of tennis, the three Annapolis siblings were presented the tournament's sportsmanship trophy Saturday at the Big Vanilla Racquet Club in Arnold for their poise and fair play under emotional stress.
On Aug. 12, the Carlsons' grandfather, William Haberkorn, 74, died of cancer -- putting an extra strain on the trio.
"My mind was focused on the crisis, but when I played, I did my best to block it out," said Rebecca, who placed third in the girls 10-and-under singles bracket by virtue of a 6-0, 6-0 consolation win.
"I just tried to play the best I could," said Andrew, who placed third in the 14-and-under boys doubles along with partner Doug Miller. "I was kind of surprised that we won the award."
The left-hander also reached the quarterfinals of the 14-and-under division, falling to top-seeded Vinod Kannarkat, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
"I tried my best (under the circumstances), and I think that I played pretty well," said Lindsey, who along with Kristen Servinsky of Millersville lost in the finals to Katie McColl and Katie Cole, 6-1, 6-1, in 12-and-under girls doubles.
In singles play, Lindsey was upended in the semifinals by McColl, 6-0, 6-1.
"I'm very proud of all three of them," said their father, Cmdr. Don Carlson, officer representative to the Naval Academy men's tennis team and coach of the women's club team. "Igave them the option of playing, but their mother said that they should continue playing because their grandfather would have wanted themto."
Evelyn Carlson, the trio's mother said, "My father was very dedicated to the (Annapolis) sports community, and he enjoyed workingwith the children. He gave them the encouragement to participate in sports."
The athletic threesome, who also participate in youth league softball and baseball, were picked by 385 of their fellow tournament entrants, giving theaward a little extra meaning.
"It's remarkable that the kids were able to play so well," said Peter Fink, president of the Maryland Tennis Association. "They kept their composure and were complimentary with line calls."
Said Linda Myers, MTA secretary and Maryland Junior Championship Tournament administrator, "They are just really nice kids. They don't throw their rackets around, and they always gave their opponents the benefit of the doubt on the close calls."