Westminster freshman pair pulls title upset

May 15, 1994|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,Special to The Sun

The Carroll County tennis tournament followed the script yesterday at South Carroll -- except for one unexpected plot twist.

Top seeds Craig Eckard and Laurie Kreseski from North Carroll captured the singles championships while the top-seeded doubles team of Erica Bouthner and Amber Clutter from South Carroll also won yesterday.

But the boys doubles final produced the tournament's biggest surprise. That's where Westminster's No. 2 team of Steve Flora and Dave Shoffner defeated its No. 1 team of Eric Minor and Steve Hockstra, 6-2, 0-6, 7-6 (7-5), for the county title. The interesting part is Flora and Shoffner are freshmen and Minor and Hockstra are seniors -- and were unbeaten and the top seed.

Flora and Shoffner were the top seed among No. 2 doubles teams -- which meant, in effect, they were the No. 6 seed overall -- and spent the season practicing against the Minor-Hockstra duo.

Minor and Hockstra (15-1) appeared in control after blanking the freshmen in the second set. But Flora and Shoffner (16-1) battled back. They won the final three points of the tiebreaker to take the match.

Westminster coach Fran McCullin said the freshmen worked hard all season to improve.

"When I put them together this year, it was two freshmen playing No. 2 doubles," said McCullin. "You figure if they can win three-quarters of their matches, that's wonderful. To have them come out here and win the county title would be beyond anyone's expectations."

Eckard (13-2), the lone repeating champion, nearly got surprised also. He outlasted Brian Haines of Westminster, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, in a two-hour battle.

Haines defeated teammate Mark Pallack, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, in a long semifinal and took only 30 minutes off before the final. The North Carroll senior had a long break and thought the final would not be difficult. "I thought I was going to be able to roll over him after he had to play that three-set match," Eckard said. "But he was tough."

Haines frustrated Eckard and kept him back by hitting long, deep shots. Eckard's power brought him back after he lost the first set, but he still had to rally in the third set. Eckard trailed, 3-4, and was down, 15-40, but rallied to win that game and the next two for the match.

Kreseski (12-3), a runner-up last year, also needed to work to win.

She defeated Kristy Matthai of Westminster, 6-4, 6-3, to take the title. The two spent much of their time trading shots from the baseline, and Kreseski finally wore down her opponent.

Bouthner and Clutter (14-0) topped Francis Scott Key's Paula Koontz and Heather Stinson, 6-4, 6-3. The South Carroll duo saved some match points to edge the Key pair, 11-9, earlier this season, but yesterday was different.

In this match, Bouthner and Clutter served well, controlled play at the net and made few errors.

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