Last spring, the Old Mill tennis team took an unbeaten record into Severna Park to try and end the Falcons' 64-match winning streak.
But the Patriots came up on the losing end of a 5-4 score, as Severna Park went on to finish 12-0, capturing its fourth county tournament title in five years. Today, the Pats once again will take the short trip down from Millersville to try and halt the Falcons' 69-match string.
Severna Park is sorely missing Katherine Hobbs, the defending county, region and state champion girls singles player who decided to forgo her senior year to play in the area's junior circuit. The steady backcourt specialist has made a verbal commitment to Jacksonville (Fla.) University.
"I'm very disappointed that she's not playing, andit'll definitely hurt us. But if we can just get over this first week, I think we'll be OK," said 1991 Anne Arundel County Sun Coach of the Year Margie Nicholson.
Freshman Brownowyn Fulton inherits the No. 1 singles position from Hobbs, while sophomore Sarah Keller will play at No. 2 singles. Jenny Weitz and Trisha Cornelious are the top girls doubles players for Severna Park, while sophomore Ben Rawitt will be the No. 1 boys singles player. Junior Joe Laidley is at No. 1 doubles, while top doubles players include junior Andy Smith and seniorBennett Wise, who probably will wind up in mixed doubles.
For acting coach Richard Hobbs' Old Mill club, senior Matt Servinsky will beback to defend his regional boys singles crown. Servinsky placed third in the county tourney, and also qualified for the state, bowing out in the second round.
"I don't see anyone (in the county) beatinghim. He's hitting with even more power this year, and he has a solidall-court game,"
said Hobbs, whose team forfeited four matches in91 to finish at 6-6.
Half of Old Mill's boys state champion doubles team, senior Phil White, returns to team up with Matt Pharr (regional mixed doubles finalist last season). Freshman Jason Reynolds willman the No. 2 boys singles position. On the girls side, sophomore Andrea Melocik will hold the No. 1 singles slot, and Lucinda Galles is the team's top doubles specialist. The Pats are 2-0 after opening victories over Chesapeake and North County.
Arundel (2-0 this season)may have something to say about who reigns supreme in the county, asit returns a host of veteran players from Coach Greg Helms' 11-1 contingent. Junior Jason Kesselman (9-2 at No. 2 singles last season) will play lead singles for the Wildcats, who are without last year's county champ, Doug Neagle.
Following Kesselman are senior Ryan Eckenrode and junior Matt Durose. Both will alternate between No. 1 doubles and No. 2 singles.
Jen Whitley, who placed second in the county girls singles last year, is back as No. 1 singles player for her junior season, while sophomore Jen Beers is slated at the No. 2 singles. Senior Nicola Rust will be the team's No. 1 doubles player.
"I think we have a good shot (at the county championship). We have lots of depth, and if we play up to our ability, we'll be in real good shape toward the end of the season," said Helms.
Both Broadneck (9-3 last year, now 0-1 after a narrow 5-4 loss to Severna Park yesterday), and South River (7-5 last year) figure to cause commotion among the upper-echelon teams.
State tournament participant senior Wade Berusch, (who finished third in the regional tourney and second in the county tourney behind Neagle) will lead the Bruins into battle from the No. 1 singles position.
"Wade's hitting the ball with more power and consistency," said 11-year Broadneck mentor Phoebe Kelly. Josh Jeffords will fill in the other boys singles slot, while April Quigley and Leah Schmidt are the top two female players.
"I think we're going to play teams like Severna Park and Arundel very close," said 15-year South River coach Ron Price, whose team is 2-0 after wins over North County and Northeast. "We're very strong in the girls and the upper boys."
Freshman Priya Vajani will raise the eyebrows of many this year with her steady ground strokes, while Tracey Zettle is slottedat No. 2 girls singles. Mark Hanna and Brian Knupp are the No. 1 and2 male singles players, respectively, while Grif Bell and Bryan Patterson are the leading Seahawk boys doubles players. Leading girls double candidates are Stacey Parkinson, Mary Sears, Paula McDonald and Swedish foreign exchange student Linda Sjusdedt.
Another freshman, rangy 6-footer Jay Kimmell, is expected to make a big impact at Chesapeake, which placed fourth in the county in 1991 with an 8-4 record. Mark Meyer (second place with Tim Marshall in county tournament) returns as the top boys doubles player, while Eric Kuchera will play No. 2 boys singles.
Junior Staci Jenkins, a third-place finisher in girls singles last season, is the best girl for the Cougars, who are 1-1 thus far under veteran coach Ginny Barnicoat.
Dan Krimmelbein hopes that his North County squad (0-2) can finish at the .500 mark after a posting a 7-5 mark last year.