Nothing keeps Edman down in capturing IAAM singles title

Sophomore weathers illness, wind for B crown


October 27, 2001|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

On a day when brisk, gusty winds played havoc with the ball, Glenelg Country School sophomore Nissa Edman overcame infinitely more difficult circumstances to win the No. 1 singles title in the B Division of the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland tennis tournament.

Edman has cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that affects the respiratory, digestive and reproductive systems. Nevertheless, she avenged her only loss of the season -- in which she encountered breathing problems in the third set -- to defeat top-seeded Danielle Barish of St. Paul's, 6-3, 6-3, yesterday at McDonogh.

"She's a true fighter. She's so inspirational to the team," said Glenelg Country coach Jackson Tsai, also an emergency room physician at Howard County General Hospital. "I know the disease pretty well because I treat patients in the ER with it. To me, what she's doing is just phenomenal."

McDonogh's Kristin Messmer, the No. 2 player in the Mid-Atlantic 16-under division, captured the A Division No. 1 singles for the third straight year, besting Garrison Forest's Katie Ficken, 6-4, 6-2. Other top-flight champions were McDonogh's Priti Julka and Caroline Moose (A doubles), and Clare Launder and Margaret Naney (B doubles) of St. Paul's, which claimed four titles on the day.

Edman's win, however, was particularly inspirational.

CF afflicts about 30,000 people in the United States, and average life expectancy is 32. Tsai, who learned of his player's condition midway through the season, said victims must endure frequent trips to the hospital for treatment.

On this day, however, it was Edman's net play that was foremost on her mind. She said she learned quite a bit from her earlier loss to Barish, which ended in a third-set tiebreaker.

"I knew that she hit really low strokes, so I played the net more and got more of them," said Edman (6-1), a transfer from Montgomery County's Wootton, where she spent last season as an alternate doubles player.

Like Edman, Messmer said she learned a lot from an earlier match with Ficken, helping her remain undefeated this season.

"I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do coming into the match," Messmer said. "I wanted to attack her backhand more and move her around more than I did last time."

It was also a big day for St. Paul's, which qualified its entire team for the finals and won four of its five matches. The Gators prevailed in No. 2 singles (Lyssa Cleary) and the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 doubles matches, with the teams of Launder and Naney, Stephanie Boesel and Nora Kenney, and Tara Lally and Ashley Rytter winning their flights, respectively.

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