North Carroll's Eckard, Westminster's Koenig head best at net 1993 All-Carroll County tennis

June 06, 1993|By John Harris III | John Harris III,Contributing Writer

North Carroll's Craig Eckard doesn't worry about individual awards as much as making himself a better tennis player.

The 6-foot-2, 150-pound junior crowned a sparkling regular season (14-2) by winning this year's county tennis tournament and advancing to the quarterfinals of the District V tournament.

"My main goal isn't winning all sorts of championships, but to improve enough so I can be proud of the way I play," said Eckard, who went 9-4 last season at No. 1 singles.

His performance this year was more than enough to be named The Baltimore Sun's boys tennis Player of the Year for Carroll County.

On the girls' side, South Carroll's Amber Clutter and Nikki Robitaille and Westminster's Laura Shoffner and Kristi Matthai all turned in quality seasons.

However, The Baltimore Sun's girls tennis Player of the Year for ++ Carroll County is Westminster's Mandy Koenig, who went undefeated in regular-season play, won the county tournament and advanced to the quarterfinals of the district tourney.

Koenig led Westminster's 13-2 season and the Owls' 7-0 record captured the county championship.

But coach Ken Shook said it was a team effort.

Shook, in his eighth season, has guided his team to two consecutive county titles. He took a team that lost five seniors from its starting lineup in 1992 and kept it from making this season a rebuilding one. For that, he has been chosen the Baltimore Sun's girls tennis Coach of the Year.

The Westminster boys squad placed no one higher than third in the county tournament, but still managed to place first in the county dual-match standings with an 11-2 league mark (13-4 overall).

Westminster also tied North Carroll for the Central Maryland Conference crown, earning coach Fran McCullin the Baltimore Sun's boys tennis Coach of the Year honor.

In addition to self-motivation, Eckard also gave a lion's share of credit to coach John Lynam.

"Mr. Lynam is a great coach to work with. He was always there to tell me what I could improve on. He can see what I'm doing wrong before I can," Eckard said.

Eckard's bread-and-butter stroke -- the forehand -- helped him capture the county title by beating Paul Weinhardt of South Carroll, 7-6, 6-2. He then won two matches in district play before falling to Greg McGuffin of Arundel, 7-5, 6-2.

Koenig went through the county tournament without losing a set, as she turned back North Carroll's Laurie Kreseski, 6-3, 6-3, in the final round. It was her second county title in the last three years, the loss coming to teammate Becky Duex, 4-6, 7-5, 4-6, in last year's singles finals. The four-year varsity starter also won the Central Maryland Conference No. 1 singles title, and was named first-team all-CMC.

"Mandy is a super player and a perfect model for the younger players," Shook said early this year. "She's a hard worker with beautiful strokes and never lets down."

Shook was ecstatic over his team's play throughout the year. He guided two singles player and two doubles teams to the district tournament.

"Even though we lost all of those seniors, I really wouldn't have called this year a rebuilding year. It was more of a reloading year. I really did depend on three of our seniors [Koenig, Andrea Stanton, and Laura Shoffner] for leadership. They played a crucial role in our success," said Shook.

No. 2 singles player Stanton placed third in the county finals, downing Dawn Wilhelm of Liberty, 6-2, 6-0, to gain a district berth.

The No. 1 doubles unit of Matthai and Shoffner upset the #F top-seeded Clutter and Robitaille in the finals of the county tournament, 6-1, 6-3. They also earned a spot in the state tournament by placing second in the district tournament.

The No. 2 doubles team of Sara Clark and Kristen Hoffmeyer also made the trip to the districts on the strength of a 6-1, 6-3 conquest of Francis Scott Key's Jenn Adler and Jen Baker.

McCullin, another eight-year veteran, won his fourth county title during his tenure, along with his third CMC crown in Westminster's six years in the conference.

"I think the depth and balance of our squad made the difference this year.," McCullin said.

"It didn't seem like we had the best players, but it didn't make a difference in the end. I was fortunate enough to have kids who were willing to play tennis after the season, kids who took lessons and worked with their games year-round," he said.

Senior Marco Fuggitti (10-6), the 1992 county singles champion, took third in the county tourney, as did the No. 1 doubles team of juniors Eric Minor and Steve Hockstra (12-7).

Other key players on McCullin's team included senior Jeff Seaman and junior Brian Haynes.

Junior Mark Pallock also pitched in during the regular season, winning seven matches in a row at No. 3 singles.

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