The only surprise to yesterday's Carroll County High School Tennis Tournament at North Carroll in Hampstead was the lack of one.
Three of the five top-seeded players in each bracket won individual titles. Although North Carroll's Charis Fulton, seeded second in the girls singles draw, beat No. 1 seed Charlotte owen of Francis Scott Key, 6-4, 6-4, they were considered to be of equal talent.
Similarly, the mixed doubles champions, Jessica Bradford and Russell Iseminger of North Carroll, were seeded third based on a lottery drawing, which did not weigh their No. 2 and No. 1 respective singles positions this season.
"I thought there would be [an upset] in this one," said South Carroll coach Jim Carnes, whose top-seeded boys doubles pairing of John Luster and Mike Reiter downed Liberty's Justin Fahey and Aaron Sheets, 6-2, 7-5, in the final. "There are a lot of teams that are even out here."
Not in girls doubles, however. The Panthers' Brooke Foster and Heather Easter continued their dominance in the county by winning their third consecutive title.
The No. 1 duo, who routed second-seeded Chrissy Feiler and Anna Repetti, of Liberty, 6-1, 6-1, is the first Carroll County doubles team to three-peat.
"Really?" asked a stunned Foster, a senior. "I had no idea."
Added Easter, a junior: "Wow. Well, it feels good to know that."
Foster and Easter boast an impressive 50-2 record over the past three seasons as a doubles pair -- a feat that did not escape the notice of their coach.
"They are the perfect doubles team," John Lynam said. "Heather is volatile, an emotional player. Brooke is the steady one. That works out well."
Top seed Derek Mannheim of Francis Scott Key captured the boys singles crown with a 6-0, 6-1 defeat of South Carroll's Ben Hamlington, who was seeded second.
Mannheim, a junior exchange student who is ranked in his native Peru, has yet to lose a set to a county opponent.
"I'm playing pretty well," Mannheim said. "I was training with Coach [Derrik Hess], playing points against him to train for the tournament."
Luster and Reiter did not enjoy smooth sailing through their bracket. They were down 5-0 in their first match Friday before winning, 11-9. Yesterday, they won the first set easily, but were broken twice in the second set by Fahey and Sheets, who were seeded sixth, to knot the score at five.
But Luster and Reiter broke Fahey's serve and served out the match.
"We were a little shaky there," Reiter said. "But then we became aggressive and we stepped it up."
Bradford and Iseminger had little trouble against top-seeded Tracey McElroy and Sam McGrane of South Carroll, winning 6-0, 6-2 in the final.
Bradford and Iseminger, both seniors, said they asked their coach to play mixed doubles instead of singles.
"We felt that we had a better chance if we combined our skills and played mixed doubles," Iseminger said.
Gowen received the top seed over Fulton because the junior won their first head-to-head meeting, 10-3, on April 6.
But yesterday, Fulton mixed topspin and slice shots and waited until Gowen made some costly unforced errors.