Centennial still team to single out Defending county champs younger but loaded compared to competition

Tennis preview

March 30, 1997|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

What a difference a year makes.

Some 365 days ago -- give or take a few -- Centennial coach Daryl Blickenstaff said this about his team: "We have high expectations. There aren't any weaknesses."

Now fast forward to this year. "I think we'll be competitive," Blickenstaff said.

Competitive?

Are we talking about the same school that last year won its seventh straight regular-season title and 11th in 14 years. The same team that earned its sixth consecutive tournament championship and 10th in 12 years.

"All the other teams will think that we're the team to beat, but I don't necessarily agree with that this year," Blickenstaff said. "I hope we are. Time will tell."

It's true that the Eagles don't have the experience or depth of a year ago. But compared to most teams, they're still loaded.

"We're not as good as last year," said junior Katie Dougherty, Centennial's top girls player, "but I think we can still win county and regionals."

Dougherty played doubles with her sister, Julia, the last two years. They won two county titles, and finished third in the state two years ago and won the state title last year.

With Julia at the University of Connecticut, Katie is playing singles this season. She posted an impressive victory last week, defeating defending county champion and state finalist Karen Prangley of River Hill, 8-1.

"Karen was a little off and I was playing solid," said Dougherty.

Said Prangley, who suffered her first high school singles loss: "I just couldn't get into a groove, and Katie was playing well."

Rounding out Centennial's top four are Courtney Martin and Bonny Ghosh, both seniors, and freshman Jessie Abel.

Matt Ruppert has replaced his brother, Brian, as Centennial's top boys player. Brian, who was the Eagles' top player for four years, accepted a scholarship to St. John's but shortly after school began transferred to Towson State.

Brian, a senior, and junior Babar Sultan, who was No. 8 last year, are the only returning players on the boys ladder. Sophomore Charles Lin and senior Matt Holmwood complete the top four.

"We have the talent to win the county," said Blickenstaff, whose team edged Wilde Lake, 5-4, in the season opener. "It's a matter of them coming together at the right time."

Atholton coach Greg Dubac will find out how good his team is during the first week back from spring break. The Raiders play Centennial April 7, Wilde Lake April 9 and Mount Hebron April 11.

"I think we're going to give them [Centennial] a run for their money," Dubac said.

Senior Adam Abramson heads the boys ladder, followed by seniors Jay Garbart and Jason Green. Junior Shomik Das and senior Jason Ekman round out the top five.

Sophomore Kristy Stutz is the Raiders' top girl, replacing Prangley, who was redistricted to River Hill. Seniors Meghan Prentiss and Katie Young and junior Lauren Gleit complete the top four.

Glenelg is in a "building year" according to coach Jean Vanderpool. Seniors Lauren Brown and Shannon Stevens head the girls. Junior Justin Benoliel, who Vanderpool calls "probably the best boys player Glenelg has ever had," and seniors Chuck Kennedy and Christian Bolinger lead the boys.

Hammond has had back-to-back winless seasons, but last week defeated Howard, 5-4, to give first-year coach John DiPaula something to build on. Sophomore Heather Tyng and juniors Ehrin Alexander and Lisa Laanisto head the girls. Senior Jordan Tobin leads the boys, and DiPaula also is expecting good things from juniors Elliot Tobin, Jordan's brother, and Kevin Ghozati.

Howard coach Craig O'Connell has one of the top boys players in senior John Rockwell, who finished second in the county singles championship the past two seasons. Senior George Jong and sophomore Jesse Kieffer round out the top three. Sophomores Kristen Sucher and Sun Yi and senior Fatima Chaudhry are the top three girls.

Long Reach coach Joe Staub has a team with some talent but lacking experience. Junior Terrence Tebo and sophomore Sam Karki lead the boys. Three juniors head the girls -- Kruti Parekh, Hoai-an Nguyen and Nicole Kesecker.

Casey Berryman's Mount Hebron team did not have No. 1 boys player Matt Chen, a senior, for the first three matches because of a leg injury. Junior Stanley Rajakumar and senior Jason Coburn compete the top three. Sophomore Megan Moulding, the No. 8 player last year, is the top girls player this season, followed by freshman Katie Long and junior Seema Jose.

LaVan Hutchinson is teaching his Oakland Mills squad a lot of fundamentals. The top girls' players are junior Sharon Hogue and seniors Sarah Nguyen and Michelle Osterberger. Leading the boys are senior Michael Compofelice and juniors Michael Gillis and Jose Gonzalez.

Prangley, a junior who already has taken 12th-grade English and will graduate from River Hill this year, has orally committed to a scholarship from UMBC. She leads the girls squad, followed by junior Tonya Day and freshman Marielle Proia. The boys are led by junior Chanu Rhee, sophomore Zachary Heidipriem and freshman Mike Schneebaum. Maureen Shelley is a first-year coach.

Ron Shelton's Wilde Lake team put a scare into Centennial in the season opener, losing by one, and will be competitive. The top boys are freshman Ari Zwig, junior Ehson Mosleh, sophomore David Taylor and senior Dan Duvan. Leading the girls are junior Lauryn Taubman, seniors Mary Valverde and Nadine Zimmer and junior Jodi Richmond.

Pub Date: 3/30/97

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