McDonogh's Ackerman smashes way to No. 1 spot Sophomore stands out with 8-1 singles mark

April 18, 1993|By Tara Finnegan | Tara Finnegan,Contributing Writer

McDonogh tennis player Scott Ackerman went into this season knowing that his most difficult challenge might not come from other schools, but rather from his teammates.

"My biggest competition is keeping my spot on the team," Ackerman said. "We're real deep all the way back to the No. 7 player."

In preseason tryouts, Ackerman was ranked No. 2. But by the time the defending Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference champion Eagles played their first match of the season, on March 23, the sophomore had challenged his way to the No. 1 spot.

"Everyone on the team was going for No. 1, well, at least I was going for No. 1," Ackerman said with a smile. "Most of the people had an idea where they were going to fit in this year."

So far Ackerman is fitting in just fine at the top of the Eagles' singles lineup. He is undefeated in MSA A Conference competition (6-0) and is 8-1 overall with his only loss being to Georgetown Prep, a match the Eagles (8-1) lost 4-3.

Ackerman, who played at the No. 4 spot last year, played in

United States Tennis Association tournaments in the Mid-Atlantic region over the summer and played in New England and Canada, in preparation for this season. He also works with teaching professionals Nancy Orenstein in Woodbine and locally with Claude England.

Last summer, in 16-and-under competition, he was ranked No. 19 in the state and No. 61 in the Mid-Atlantic region.

"Physically, he's gotten stronger and he's hitting the ball a little harder this year," McDonogh coach Laddie Levy said.

Ackerman said he has worked on improving his kick serve, which he uses for his second serve, and on his ground strokes, which he hits with a lot of pace and consistency. He also feels he is tougher mentally.

All these improvements in his game have given him a lot of challenging goals to shoot for in his first season at No. 1.

"I'd like to win the MSA tournament, go undefeated in the conference and win the conference playoff," Ackerman said.

This year the A Conference is in two divisions with St. Paul's, Mount St. Joseph and Severn in McDonogh's division and John Carroll, Calvert Hall, Gilman and Loyola in the other. In May, the two division leaders will play for the overall conference title.

The Eagles and Ackerman probably will face their toughest conference competition Tuesday when they travel to Calvert Hall, which they could meet in the conference playoffs.

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