With just two returnees back from last year's 6-3 squad, the Anne Arundel Community College tennis team has put together a more than respectable men's tennis contingent.
Rookie coach Joe Hayes' squad upped both its overall and Maryland Junior College Conference record to 7-1 Friday with an 8-1 win over Essex -- its seventh victory in a row.
Hayes, whose second-place team will face Harford Community College tomorrow to wrap up the regular season, credits a well-balanced starting seven for his team's success.
"They're all pretty even, talent-wise," he said. "With just eight weeks to play all of our matches,we really don't have the time to play for positions, so I keep the same lineups, plus they seem to play better in matches. They don't play well against each other at all."
Severna Park graduate Mark Terrell is the Pioneers' No. 1 singles player. The hard-serving sophomoreleft-hander owns a 6-2 singles record, and along with Delaware native Tom Wyatt (No. 2 singles) sports a 7-1 doubles mark. Terrell, who said he might attend Salisbury State University next spring, downed the Knights' top player, Jeremy Johnson, 6-2, 6-0.
"They don't offerany scholarships there, but I might play anyway; depends on how muchtime I'll have," said Terrell, who teamed up with Wyatt for a 6-0, 6-2 doubles win Friday.
The rest of the Anne Arundel lineup (in descending order) includes Mount St. Joseph grad Steve Downey (6-2 singles, 6-2 doubles), Chesapeake alumni Dave Dori (6-2 singles, 5-0 doubles) and Steve Woodall (6-2 singles, 5-0 doubles); ex-Andover player Tom Golden (7-1), and freshman Justin Figel (6-2 doubles), a former Old Mill player.
Woodall, a 25-year-old West Virginia native, attended the college during the 1985-1986 school year and used his first year of eligibility on a 3-6 squad. He then went into the Navy before picking up 21 semester hours last spring and another 15 this semester.
"This year has been fun. It's great to be in the college life again," he said.
Golden, winner of the team's 1990 Most Valuable Player Award, has high aspirations for the Pioneers in next weekend's conference tournament at Essex.
"I can't wait. I'm looking forward togoing to (Tyler) Texas (the site of the National Junior College Athletic Association championships). I think we should come in at least second place," he said. "I think it'll be between (conference leader Montgomery-) Rockville (8-0) and then us."
The Pioneers lost to Rockville, 6-3, on Sept. 13.
Terrell said, "Let's put it this way, ifwe played them five times, I think we could win three or four times.I think we should have beaten them in the first match. I think it was a shame we lost to them. But we lost a couple of guys in the beginning of the season because of academic ineligibility, so that kind of hurt us."
Said Hayes, "I'm not sure if we'd beat them (Rockville) today, because I'm sure they're better today than the day we played them. It was our first match of the season, and we knew they would be tough."
Hayes, while pleased with the team's record, is cautious about Anne Arundel's chances.
"Lately, we've been involved in a lotof easy matches. So we haven't been playing against the best competition," he said. "This week, after we play Harford, we've got a lot ofwork ahead of us. We've got to get more focused mentally.
"I'm going to have the guys hitting lots of balls from Tuesday until Thursday. With the dual-match format, it (the tournament) should go down to the wire. If we win, it'll be by a heartbeat."