Youthful Cordish serves up title Gilman grad wins Gr. Baltimore tennis

June 25, 1993|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Staff Writer

Blake Cordish describes his younger brother, Reed, as

"unimposing, physically."

"He's only like 5-9, 145 pounds," Blake said. "But on the tennis court, he plays like he's 6-2 and 220 pounds."

Reed Cordish, a 1992 Gilman graduate, was among the youngest players entered in last week's Greater Baltimore Men's Singles Tennis Championships at Suburban Country Club in Pikesville.

Yet on Saturday -- a day after turning 19 -- Cordish placed himself among the six-day tournament's three youngest champs ever, taking the title match, 6-3, 6-0, over Calvert Hall graduate Mike Castrilli.

Reed's coach, Steve Krulevitz, 42, was a 16-year-old champ, beating Mac Pardeu, whom Krulevitz said was champ at "18 or 19." Krulevitz, once world-ranked, toured professionally for 10 years, playing Wimbledon nine times and the U.S. Open 11.

"Playing in front of my family, and on a court I've been playing on since I was 12, was an advantage," said Cordish, a Pikesville resident whose 50-1 career record at Gilman included four Maryland Scholastic Association crowns -- three as the Greyhounds' No. 1 player and one at No. 2 as a freshman.

"Reed stayed amazingly calm and handles pressure better tha most. It was fun to watch," said Blake, a June graduate of Princeton, where Reed will be a sophomore. "Personally, I'd have hated to play in front of a [familiar] crowd, people who had heard his name and had inflated expectations of him. But he seemed to thrive on it."

Reed is the last of three tennis-playing brothers, with their father, David, 53, being "the common denominator, working with all of us," Reed said.

John Cordish, 26, was Gilman's No. 1 player for two years and played two years each at Brandeis and Penn. Blake, 22, spent four seasons as Gilman's ace, followed by Reed, who entered Princeton ranked among the nation's top 50 juniors in singles and among the top five in doubles.

Cordish's first MSA crown avenged his only loss, against McDonogh's Alberto Diaz. That year, Reed also teamed with Blake -- the eventual three-time singles champ -- to win his first of three doubles titles.

After a tough adjustment on the college level -- Reed went 2-2 in fall dual matches and placed fifth in an Eastern Invitational tournament -- the youngest Cordish relied more on brotherly advice.

The result was a 21-4 spring record -- including a 7-0 start -- and a rise from No. 6 to No. 4 singles. Cordish had a win over a Pepperdine player ranked among the nation's top 10 collegians and a tournament victory over Harvard's top gun.

"It was all him," said Blake, declining to take credit for his brother's improvements. "College is a big transition, so I just warned him of the mistakes I made. The rest was just his maturity. I'm really proud to see him step out."

With the Tigers' top player having graduated, Reed may returas next year's No. 3 player on a squad that placed fourth in its East League.

"With our top guy turning pro, if my game improves, maybe I'll give it [turning pro] a shot," Cordish said. "I don't see it as a livelihood, but it's not inconceivable. But first, I'll play all four years at Princeton."

Two weeks ago, Krulevitz began cross-training Cordish, drilling tennis five days a week for an hour and 15 minutes per session. Every other day, he alternates an hour and 15 minutes of weight training with off-court sprints and three-mile endurance runs.

"It's a more professional-oriented method of training, to work on his strengths," Krulevitz said.

Cordish said: "I'm mainly a base-liner, but I'm more aggressive, hitting ground strokes hard to do damage or hit an out-right winner. I use strategy more, attacking the net and creating opportunities instead of waiting for a mistake."

Friday's semifinal marathon match against Claude England tested Cordish's resolve. He dropped the first set, 5-7, but rebounded to win the second, 6-3.

At that point, the match had lasted 2 1/2 hours and into the night, so officials postponed the third set. The following morning, a refreshed Cordish took England, 6-0, to win the match.

"I lost to him in three sets in this tournament last year, and having taken hundreds of lessons from him and losing to him for so long, this was kind of special," said Cordish, adding that England, ranked among the nation's top five 35-year-old

professionals, had been a longtime mentor to him and Blake.

"If the third set had been like the first two, I might have felt more pressure and been more concerned," Cordish said. "But it served as kind of a warm-up, so I was pretty loose, motivated and relaxed going into the final."

So composed was Cordish in the title match, that he swept Castrilli, Blake's longtime nemesis.

"It helped having watched his wars with Blake," said Reed, who will concentrate on training until entering a mid-July tournament in Pittsburgh, followed by an early August event in upstate New York.

"I'll just keep working hard this summer, because as you improve, it gets more difficult to see results," Cordish said. "To win [the Greater Baltimore] was unexpected because it came during the off-season when I'm just trying to stay sharp. It's kind of a measuring stick, telling me that I did improve while I was away at college."

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