Powers McDonogh, Gilman positioned to hold serve

Pikesville, Poly also equipped to maintain places at top of leagues

March 20, 2000|By Mike Frainie | Mike Frainie,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Tennis teams that are traditionally strong look to be dominant again this year, while teams that have not done well will have a tough road to travel.

The Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association will again be a battle between Gilman and McDonogh. The Eagles won the league title last year, after Gilman won it the previous year. That win by the Greyhounds broke McDonogh's streak of six straight titles.

The Greyhounds lost their No. 1 singles player, Mike Peters, to graduation, but return an impressive lineup. Amir Zamani, who played No. 2 singles last year, will move into the top spot. He will be pushed by a talented group, which includes sophomore Justin Rofel and junior Mike Fisher. Art Aglubat, who was part of last year's No. 1 doubles team, will return, and finding him a new partner will be crucial.

McDonogh lost several of its top players from last year, but there's still a lot of talent left. Sophomore Nitha Jayadiva (13-2 in league last year) returns, as does sophomore Amadi Nzu. Senior Steve Hallock is back as well.

The Eagles will have to contend with the loss of stars Zach Meyers and Chris Chui from last year's championship team. Both were picked first-team All-City/County by The Sun last spring.

The two powers will be challenged by Boys' Latin, Loyola and Calvert Hall. The Lakers return their top two players in four-year seniors Devon Murphy and Jake Aygen. Freshman Hillen Smith has also been impressive. Calvert Hall will benefit from the addition of Joey Addis, an impressive freshman.

Archbishop Curley, which has won the B Conference the last three years, is a slight favorite in the more balanced league. Sophomore Craig Kardon will lead the team, and seniors Jason Kondilas, Leslie Constantinedis, and Brandon Quaranta will provide depth. Look for St. Mary's and Archbishop Spalding to make a run at the Friars.

Baltimore County will again be led by Pikesville, but some other teams have emerged to challenge the Panthers, who have won 33 of the past 35 county titles. A rule change this year in Baltimore county could also make things more competitive.

This year, instead of playing seven matches, county teams will play nine; the additional matches coming from No. 2 boys and girls doubles teams.

Pikesville coach Jerry Dresner thinks the rule change will both hurt and help his team.

"I think it helps us with the boys, but not the girls," said Dresner, who has depth on his boys team.

Pikesville returns its No. 1 and No. 2 players in both boys and girls. Dana Dolvin, who finished third in the county in No. 1 singles, will lead the boys, while Jeff Craft, the defending county champ at No. 2 singles, also returns. Both are juniors. The girls return seniors Erika Hirshfeld and Natalie Desmond, Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in singles.

The Panthers will benefit because the divisions have been realigned, and Dulaney, another traditional power, will be in the other division.

Dulaney lost its Nos. 1 and 2 boys and No. 2 girl, but the Lions will benefit from the addition of freshman Chase Dawson. He is ranked in the top 200 in the nation for his age group by the U.S. Tennis Association. Sharon Spangenberg takes over as head coach from Pat Heil.

Towson returns a young team, and could give Pikesville a run. The Generals will be led by sophomore girls Veena Rao and Meredith Hass, at Nos. 1 and 2 singles, respectively, and seniors Mark Muth and Greg Armstrong will battle it out on the boys side.

Randallstown returns senior Elizabeth Harvey, The Sun's Baltimore City/County Girls Player of the Year. The Rams, however, will have to find a replacement for her sister, Leslie, who graduated.

In Baltimore City, Poly will again be the team to beat. The Engineers have won the past four city championships and been undefeated the past three years. They finished last year with an 11-0 record.

Junior Michael Fowler, who was third on the depth chart last year, will move into the No. 1 singles position for the boys. He will be pushed by senior Carson Porter. The girls will be led by senior Kim Harrison, a third-year player. Senior Jennifer Brookover and juniors Rowena Jalova and Diane Geroso will compete for the second spot on the team.

"We have a good team again this year," Poly coach Preston Jackson said "When we're in sync, we're hard to beat."

Jackson said the level of tennis in the city is improving, and that interest seems to be growing.

Forest Park and Southern will field teams after absences the past few years.

Poly's closest challenge could come from Southwestern, where coach Arlene Scott has a program on the rise.

Western returns its No. 1 player from last year in sophomore Portia Wood, who was named to the All-Baltimore City/County team as a freshman.

City, a power in the past, lost No. 1 singles player James Giza to graduation. Giza was ranked among Maryland youth tennis players and did not lose while in high school.

Other teams that will try to make a run at Poly include Patterson and Lake Clifton.

Pub Date: 3/20/00

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