18-0 Wilde Lake takes Tournament Cup, too

Zweig's singles title ends Centennial's dominance

May 16, 1999|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Wilde Lake's perfect season continued yesterday at the Howard County Championships, with all three of its finalists winning and the Wildecats earning their first Tournament Cup trophy.

Wilde Lake, which went 18-0 to earn its first regular-season title since 1985, edged perennial champion Centennial, 18-16. The final margin of victory came when Wilde Lake's Ari Zweig defeated Centennial's Charles Lin, 6-4, 6-2, in boys singles.

"After we won the regular season, we wanted to win the Cup to show we're a good team," said Zweig. "The team works well together, and we just enjoy being around each other. That was a big reason we won the county."

The Wildecats entered yesterday's finals at the Wilde Lake Tennis Club with a 15-14 lead over the Eagles, who had won 11 Tournament Cups since 1985.

Centennial, which lost only to Wilde Lake in the regular season, tied the Wildecats briefly at 15-all when Jessica Abel and Matt Lano defeated River Hill's Devon Humphries and Brian Pryse, 6-3, 6-2, in mixed doubles.

Wilde Lake took a 17-15 lead when Mari Rubert defeated teammate Lauren Bondroff, 6-1, 6-0, in girls singles and Jackie Taubman and Lizzie Richman upended Mount Hebron twins Deepa and Divya Chandran, 6-2, 7-5, in girls doubles.

Centennial was guaranteed a point in boys doubles -- Mike Thomas and Jimmy Choi defeated teammates Shawn Sultan and Shankar Sridhara, 6-1, 7-6 (1). So boys singles would decide the Cup.

"I wanted to win not only for myself but for my team," said Zweig, a junior who was the tournament's undefeated top seed. "We didn't want to tie."

Zweig, a singles finalist last year, started slowly, and Lin took advantage for a 4-2 lead. But the left-handed Zweig turned aggressor, and it paid off in four straight games and the set.

"That's what [coach Ron Shelton] was telling me -- to be aggressive and go for your shots." Zweig said. "[Lin] was making me hit good shots, and I wanted to make him hit good shots and put him on the run."

Lin, the Princeton-bound second seed, took a 2-0 lead in the second set, only to watch Zweig win six straight games.

"I was trying to be more aggressive, but I didn't feel I was in control," said Lin, who lost 8-4 to Zweig in the regular season and also in three sets in last year's tournament. "He's a more experienced player, and he has a better head game."

Added Zweig: "Once I got over my nerves and felt relaxed, I think I played well."

Rubert, a senior exchange student from Valencia, Spain, defeated top-seeded Katie Long of Mount Hebron, 6-0, 6-4, in Friday's semifinals. She had an easier time yesterday against the second-seeded Bondroff, losing only the first set's fifth game.

Rubert, who was second to Bondroff on the Wildecats' ladder all season, doesn't hit the ball hard. But she gets to everything and plays the angles well.

"She runs everything down," said Bondroff, a sophomore. "It's very frustrating. You think you've make a great shot, and it's at back in the court. I think I played pretty good. I know you wouldn't think that by looking at the score, but she gets everything back."

Rubert began playing in Spain on clay courts when she was 10 but quit three years later. She came to the United States last August and attended Arundel High School, where she played soccer. She moved to the new host home of husband and wife Garth Davis and Julia Mattis and started at Wilde Lake in February.

She decided to play tennis again as "a good way to make friends and do something after school."

Rubert, who may continue her education in the United States, said her game is simple: "I try to get the player tired. I move them. I try to make them not feel comfortable."

The strategy worked. Though Bondroff hit harder shots, Rubert dictated the match with soft lobs and drop shots and gentle but well-placed forehands.

"I feel bad," Rubert said after the win, "because it's my friend. I wish I could play another player."

Wilde Lake coach Ron Shelton said that Rubert played "the best I have seen her play all season."

Taubman, a sophomore, and Richman, a junior, reached the girls doubles final by defeating top-seeded Kristy Stutz and Melanie Scheick of Atholton, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3, in Friday's semifinal. They never trailed in yesterday's match against the senior Chandran twins, defending county titlists.

"This match was about consistency, and we kept the ball in," said Richman, who added another key was keeping the ball away from the twins' strong net game.

"They played really well," said Divya, who said the twins will attend UMBC next fall. "It came down to ground strokes, and they're really consistent, and we lost it there. We're better at the net."

Centennial's Thomas and Choi advanced to the boys doubles final with a 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (3) win in Friday's semifinal over top-seeded Zach Heidepriem and Eric Buchner of River Hill. Neither Thomas and Choi nor their teammate competitors, Sultan and Sridhara, were seeded.

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