Centennial serves up fifth Cup in row

May 14, 1994|By Chuck Acquisto | Chuck Acquisto,Special to The Sun

Perennial tennis powerhouse Centennial turned the Howard County Cup Tournament into an Eagles showcase on the way to its eighth Cup title in nine years.

Only Howard High's county and tournament championship in 1989 interrupted the Eagle's winning string.

Centennial (14-0 regular season) won nine out of its 10 first-round matches and clinched the Cup team championship with a record 64 points, with three titles still to be decided early this morning at the Wilde Lake Tennis Center.

Centennial's first individual title came in the all-Eagles' boys doubles finals yesterday with second seed Brett Bunch and sophomore Brian Higgins defeating Eagles sophomore Neil Adler and freshman Matt Ruppert, 0-6, 6-1, 6-3.

Adler and Ruppert, who knocked off third seeds Josh Prangley and Brian Naftaly of Atholton in the quarterfinals, 2-6, 6-4, 6-0, stunned Bunch and Higgins with a quick first-set win.

Bunch and Higgins, the only seeded team to advance to the boys doubles semifinals, battled back by capturing the second set and holding ground in the third with a 3-3 tie before experience took over in game seven.

"That's when we broke their serve and that really got us going," said Bunch, a junior who won the county doubles title last year with then-senior Dave Allocco. "Then we held serve. We knew we had the match at that point."

A smiling Centennial coach Bill Shook stood courtside for much of the boys' back-and-forth match.

"My specialty is coaching doubles because you have to teach moving and placement, whereas singles relies more on speed, height and skills," Shook said.

Centennial surpassed last year's point total of 51 with a Cup quarterfinals record of 54.

Mount Hebron and Howard battled for the mixed-doubles championship.

Mount Hebron senior Jillian Downs and junior Jason Smith defeated Mount Hebron senior Caroline Walls and senior Chuck Kotraba, 6-1, 6-1, for their first title. Downs and Smith, county and regional finalists a year ago, hope to make a second straight trip to the state tournament.

In today's boys singles championship match at 9 a.m., top-seeded David Mitchell of Mount Hebron, a 6-2, 6-0 winner over Wilde Lake's fourth-seeded Jason Engel, will face third-seeded Sam Booker of Howard, a 6-4, 7-5 winner over second-seeded Brian Ruppert of Centennial.

The girls championship match at 9:30 a.m. pits top seeded junior Keely Alexander of Hammond against second seed Tracy Brown of Glenelg.

The Cup concludes with sisters Becky and Stephanie Knouse, top seeds of Centennial, taking on second seeds Susan Green and Michelle Brown in an all-Eagles doubles final.

In the B Division all-Centennial girls doubles championship, sophomores Jen Mayotte and Nicole Marrietta defeated sophomores Tiffany Staley and Jannie Lee, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2.

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