Veteran Wright set to defend title HARFORD TENNIS PREVIEW

March 26, 1995|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,Sun Staff Writer

The reigning singles champions and two halves of title-winning doubles teams headline the Harford County high school tennis scene, with C. Milton Wright ready to make a strong run in defense of its team title.

Juniors Paul Shearer of Fallston and Erin Updegrove of Wright are the defenders in singles, and Updegrove's teammates, seniors Kate Corea (girls doubles) and Alison Beach (mixed doubles) are returning champions. Beach was part of a team that went on to win a regional title and place fourth in the state tournament, and Updegrove (who won 15-18 Gold Cup and County Youth tournament titles last summer) and Corea were regional runners-up.

The Mustangs' numbers are down from recent years, but plenty of talent remains from last year's 15-1 entry. Another holdover is junior Matt McFarlane, who was undefeated at boys No. 3 singles last year. In the team race, Wright can expect major challenges from several rivals, notably Bel Air, Fallston and Havre de Grace.

There is experience at Fallston (15-5), too, where Shearer, who went on to place third in his regional, is joined by a half-dozen strong returning players -- the No. 1 doubles team of Don Fisher-Steve Mento, and the girls doubles teams of Jill Kasprzak-Tracy Lacher and Jessica DiCapua-Kelly Dennis.

The Cougars lost only two players from a year ago and are hopeful of improving their record.

Returnees at Bel Air include the mixed doubles team of juniors Kim Letts-Mark Silvano, but a collection of freshmen is creating excitement. Chief among them is David Finlayson, a Gold Cup tournament 13-14 winner last summer.

Havre de Grace, which handed Wright its only loss last year, is back with many of the same players. The 1-2-3 boys singles players, all of whom won tournament titles last summer, are senior Mike Clark and sophomores Andy Mitchell and Lev Shellenberger, and the girls are junior Kathy Foley, sophomore Christine Pelletier and senior Amy Wiest.

The other seniors include the boys doubles of Sean McCone-Brook McDonald, and Jen Browning, who will team with junior Craig Gillespie in mixed doubles.

Steady improvement is expected as the result of coach Jim Bogarty's efforts to build a program at North Harford.

Among the key girls are junior Karen Phipps, a three-year veteran, in singles, and juniors Gabrielle Rahn and Nicole Riley in doubles, and for the boys, Thijs Hielkema in singles and seniors Phil Vacek-Bill Day in doubles.

At Aberdeen, first-year coach Tim Sennett has four senior veterans as the leaders of a team that includes a number of candidates with solid playing experience. The top reasons for a positive outlook include Rebecca Baldwin, Susan Heavey, Heather Lottes and Doug Taylor.

Jen Brown and Brian McKenna are expected to be the top players for Edgewood.

At Harford Tech, where last year's freshman-dominated squad struggled, coach Russ Guhr believes he will be able to work on the mental as well as the physical skills. The leading singles players are sophomores Traci Barnhouse and Chantal Champ among the girls, and junior Chris Endres and sophomores

Jeremy Conn and Leo Rollins among the boys.

Rob Grupenhoff, the lone senior, is one of four holdovers at John Carroll, where coach Dick Paaby also has five sophomores and five freshmen as candidates.

Juniors Larry DeMuth, Pat Welsh, and Dave Adams, and sophomore Skip Mountain complete the top five. The Patriots were 6-7 a year ago, and Paaby believes his young squad will be doing well to achieve a .500 finish in the tough Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association.

Another team looking to break even is Joppatowne, where five fourth-year players are expected to be the leaders. The first three girls and boys singles return -- Chris Voit and Holly Harris, plus junior Brandi Barnes, and Ben Supan, Shamir Sonji and Rahmy Wahbau.

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