Youth served by county's No. 1 players 1993 All-Anne Arundel County tennis

June 07, 1993|By John Harris III | John Harris III,Contributing Writer

With a combined record of 43-3, Annapolis freshman Meghan Cornwall and Chesapeake sophomore Jay Kimmel firmly staked their claims as the county's best female and male tennis players.

Both underclassmen won the county titles in their categories with ease -- Cornwall swept through the regular season and county tournament without giving up a set, while Kimmel lost just one set during the regular season (against Andrew Carlson of Arundel).

Not only did these two players rule the county courts, but they caused further havoc in the district and state tournaments. Their consistently outstanding play earned them the titles of the Baltimore Sun's girls and boys tennis Players of the Year in Anne Arundel County.

Both players saw their teams improve from last season, as Annapolis went from 5-7 to 8-5 (fourth place in regular season and county tournament) under first-year coach Richard King, and Chesapeake improved to 10-2 (up from 8-4 in '92), good enough for third place in the county tournament and regular season.

However, as team records go, few teams can match the consistency of Arundel. The Wildcats have gone 11-1 the past four years, as they tied for the regular-season championship in 1992.

This year, the Wildcats were nipped in both the regular season and the county tournament by Severna Park (12-0). A 5-4 loss to the Falcons (including three three-set losses) stood in the way of a perfect season for Greg Helms, The Baltimore Sun's Coach of the Year for Anne Arundel County.

Cornwall (22-2), a diminutive base-liner with excellent ground strokes, became the second straight freshman to win the county girls singles title (Priya Vajani of South River won it in 1992).

After dropping a 1-6, 6-7 match to Centennial's Becky Knouse in the district final, Cornwall regrouped and took third place in the state tournament -- including a straight-set win over Knouse.

"For a freshman, Meghan handles herself extremely well. She never blinks under pressure," said King. "The way she shook off the loss to Becky Knouse is an example of her composure.

"I remember the first day I took this job, people were telling me that I wouldn't believe how good this girl would be. She's more than lived up to her expectations."

Strength and conditioning played a major role in Kimmel's success. After being eliminated in the districts as a freshman, he began to dedicate himself to getting into better physical condition by running and lifting weights.

"I think my conditioning helped me out a lot. Sometimes you play someone who has the same skills that you have, so being in better physical shape can mean the difference between winning and losing," said Kimmel.

After rolling through the county and district championships, Kimmel (21-1) met his match in the second round of the state finals against eventual state runner-up Dale Cath

ell, a hard-serving junior from the Eastern Shore's Stephen Decatur High.

"Overall, Jay had a great year. He just keeps improving year after year. If he keeps improving, he'll set the state on fire," said Chesapeake coach Ginny Barnicoat.

Helms, who kept Severna Park's Marge Nicholson from earning her third straight Coach of the Year honor, coached his boys doubles team of Jason Kesselman and Andrew Carlson to a third-place finish in the state tournament.

His mixed doubles unit of Neely Harris and Matt Durose finished third in the District V tourney and first in the county tournament, and two singles players, Greg McGuffin, and Jen Beers, earned appearances in the district tourney. McGuffin wound up placing third.

"Our success throughout the year is a testament to the kids who come through the program," said Helms, in his eighth year. "All of them work really hard in practice to be the best they can be, and they're willing to do what it takes to win. I can't say enough about them."

Helms, who also heads the girls soccer program, put Carlson -- a

freshman who began the year at singles -- together with Kesselman two matches before the end of the sea

son. The result was an 11-match win streak lasting through the state semifinals.

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