Centennial has new coach, same power Eagles' Blickenstaff one of three coaching changes

March 31, 1996|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Three new coaches and a rule change that gives the visiting team a say in determining where players are positioned.

That's what is new this tennis season.

What's the same?

Centennial. The Eagles are deep, talented and ready to win their 10th regular-season title in 13 years.

"We have high expectations," said Centennial coach Daryl Blickenstaff. "We have a strong, well-balanced roster, boys and girls. There aren't any weaknesses."

Blickenstaff is one of the new coaches, and becomes Centennial's third coach in three years. Blickenstaff, a science teacher at Burleigh Manor Middle School, replaces last year's Coach of the Year, Linda Blakeslee. The chairman of the social studies department at Centennial, Blakeslee, who had replaced Bill Shook, said coaching was too time-consuming.

Wilde Lake, which finished second last year in the county to unbeaten Centennial with an 11-3 record, and Mount Hebron also have new coaches.

Ron Shelton, a health teacher at Wilde Lake, replaces Rick Wilson, now an assistant principal at the school. At Mount Hebron, Casey Berryman, an assistant coach last season, takes over for Cliff Bernstein.

In past years, the home team dictated where the opponent's players would play -- either singles, doubles or mixed doubles. This season the teams alternate choices, with the home team having the first choice.

"I love it. I think it's great," said Atholton coach Greg Dubac, whose team finished 7-7 in his first season last year. "It's a wonderful equalizer. Now there's a little chess match at the beginning."

But all the strategy and planning might not be enough to beat Centennial, which opened the county season Wednesday with a 7-2 win at Glenelg for its 38th straight victory.

"What separates us from the rest of the county is our depth," said Centennial's Neil Adler, a four-year player and captain.

Six of last year's top seven boys and five of last year's top seven girls return for the Eagles, who last season won their ninth county tournament cup in 11 years.

Senior Brian Ruppert returns as the No. 1 boys player, followed by senior Brian Higgins, junior Matt Ruppert, senior Dae Kim, Adler and senior Josh Bross. Higgins and Adler were unbeaten last year in the county and won their first match Wednesday.

Sophomore Katie Dougherty moves up one slot to become the No. 1 girls player, replacing graduated county singles champion Stephanie Knouse. Katie's sister, Julia, a senior, is No. 2, followed by junior Courtney Martin, junior Bonnie Ghosh and senior Nicole Marietta. Katie Dougherty and Martin were undefeated last year in the county and won again on Wednesday.

Shelton, in his first year at Wilde Lake, said the Wildecats "are not as strong" as last season because they lost a lot of seniors, including county singles champion Jason Engel. Senior Giordano Filipponi, who played No. 4 last season, is now No. 1, followed by sophomore Ehson Mosleh, sophomore Gregory Siracusa and freshman Francisco Aquino, a freshman exchange student from Brazil.

Sophomore Lauren Taubman leads Wilde Lake's girls, followed by junior Mary Valverde and sophomore Jodi Richmond.

Mount Hebron, 7-7 last season, opened its season with a 5-4 victory over the visiting Wildecats. "I think we'll be competitive," said Vikings coach Berryman. "I'm looking forward to a winning record."

Junior Matt Chen is No. 1 for the Vikings, followed by Martin Holdt, a junior exchange student from Denmark, and sophomore Stanley Rajakumar. For the girls, senior Nicola Liskovec is No. 1, followed by sophomore Ladan Fakory and freshmen Divya Chandran and Deepa Chandran.

Atholton, also 7-7 last season, got off to a strong start Wednesday with an 8-1 victory at Howard. Adam Abramson, a junior captain, moves up to No. 1 this season. Junior Jay Garbart is No. 2, followed by junior Jason Green and sophomore Shomik Das.

Sophomore Karen Prangley, ranked No. 4 in the mid-Atlantic and 153rd nationally in 16-and-under, leads the Raiders' girls. Prangley and her brother, Josh, won the county, region and state mixed doubles championships last year. Prangley will play mostly singles this season since her brother has graduated.

Prangley will attend River Hill in the fall and plans to graduate after her junior year.

Freshman Kristy Stutz is No. 2, followed by senior Jill Babchak and junior Meghan Prentiss.

"We're very deep this year," said coach Dubac, who has only two seniors on the team. "We've got a lot of pretty good players."

Glenelg finished third in the county last season at 8-6. "I think we'll be in the top half of the pack this season," said coach Jean Vanderpool, who has a young team.

Sophomore Justin Benoliel and senior Mike Melick are the top boys players. Sophomore Tonya Day is the girls No. 1, followed by juniors Shannon Stevens and Lauren Brown.

Howard, coached by Craig O'Connell, finished 6-8 last season. Junior John Rockwell and senior Albert Chen are the top boys players, and seniors Christina Chapelski and Megan Boehm lead the girls.

Oakland Mills, 3-11 a year ago, got off to a good start this year with a 5-4 victory at Hammond. Coached by LaVan Hutchinson, the Scorpions' boys are led by seniors "Shomo" Sinha, Jared Rothman and Dean Menegay. Junior Sarah Nguyen is the top girls player, followed by senior Jessica Riley and junior Michelle Osterberger.

Hammond, coached by Rich Corkran, went winless last season. Junior Jordan Tobin is the No. 1 boys player, followed by senior Terry Stockman. Freshman Heather Tyng leads the girls, followed by senior Carolyn Gruber, an exchange student from Sweden, and sophomore Ehris Alexander.

Pub Date: 3/31/96

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