Baker pursues third net gain

Glenelg senior is hoping to serve up 3rd state title, a perfect career record

High schools

March 21, 2003|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Marianne Baker already has earned a tennis scholarship to Maryland next year but is looking to end her high school career with a bang.

The Glenelg senior hasn't lost a match in two years of high school competition and wants to finish her career with a perfect record and a third state title. Baker also wants to help the Gladiators come away with another Howard County tournament - and regular-season - title.

Baker went 21-0 last year en route to the state championship despite missing a few matches to compete in outside tournaments. Her outside schedule is better this year, as she'll have to miss only one match this season, likely against River Hill while competing in the Easter Bowl national tournament in California.

Baker is third in the sectional ranks and 77th nationally among 18-and-under players. She's a complete player who gives opponents nightmares and wants only to win and help Glenelg.

"I keep trying to improve," Baker said. "I just go out there and play. It's what I do best."

Glenelg coach Mary Ellen Doyle said that Baker does everything well on the court, one reason why she's been unbeatable during her team years of varsity play. Baker skipped her freshman year.

"She can do anything," Doyle said. "She has a great forehand, a great backhand ... and has so many tricks in her pocket that it's unbelievable."

Glenelg won the county tournament title for the first time last year after Hammond (14-3) and Oakland Mills (14-2) split the regular-season crown. For the Gladiators, junior Julia Facchina also went undefeated during the regular season and advanced to the states but was in Baker's shadow.

Glenelg, Hammond and Oakland Mills all should battle for the county's regular-season and tournament titles once again this year. Mount Hebron will get help from senior Rohan Nabar (23-1 last year, losing in the state semifinals), who won the county title last year for the second time.

Private schools

McDonogh, Gilman, Calvert Hall and Loyola all will battle for the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title this spring.

For McDonogh, the defending champions, coach Laddie Levy has a lineup with lots of depth. The Eagles have won 12 A Conference titles in the last 16 years with a brilliant 170-7 record during that time.

They'll have a tough time in the top singles matches with Calvert Hall's Gary Simonette and Jon Malooly returning as the conference champions at Nos. 1 and 2, but the Eagles should also be strong in the lower singles and doubles.

Joey Atas would have given the Cardinals an unbeatable 1-2-3 punch, but he again opted not to play for Calvert Hall and concentrate on tournaments.

"We [still] have a great 1-2 punch," Calvert Hall coach Brian Carper said. "Jon would be a No. 1 player for anyone else."

Gilman lost All-City/County singles star Justin Rofel to graduation, but the Greyhounds dropped just one match last year and once again have a number of good players.

Loyola might be the dark horse this year. The Dons were 8-3 last season and return A Conference No. 1 champion Brian Crook. The senior went 10-2 last year - beating Simonette after losing to him earlier - and anchors a solid lineup that includes seniors Andrew Petrik and Brendan Kopf at Nos. 2 and 3 singles.

"We have a very strong top three," Loyola coach Don Kraft said.

Hillen Smith from Boys' Latin also should be one of the conference's top players; he beat Crook once last year and has a 23-8 career record. He'll play No. 1 for the Lakers this year.

Lutheran and St. Mary's should be two of the contenders for the B Conference title. The Saints lost top player Andrew Gaudreau (46-0 in conference play) to graduation and need to replace him.

Anne Arundel County

The county title should run through Severna Park yet again. The Falcons have won it the last three years under coach April Pinder, and despite losing some key players to graduation, Severna Park brings some talent back.

County and state doubles champions Lindsay Suller and Allison Daciek (senior and junior) are back. Junior Jeff Erwetowski returns after missing last year with injury problems.

Broadneck also should be tough after improving to 10-1 last year. The Bruins also took second in the county tournament and bring several good young players to the table.

Younger players will likely be the key in the county as several of the top competitors around graduated last year.

Baltimore City

Poly will try to win its eighth straight city crown, and the Engineers have plenty of talent to make a run at it.

Sophomore Luciano Brunetti won the singles title last year for Poly at No. 1, and junior Harold Fowler is another strong player at No. 2. Brunetti and Fowler give the Engineers one of the city's better lineups.

City and Western also could make some noise this spring. Junior Anna Friedman went 12-2 last year and captured the city title with a three-set win over Western's Josette Wiggins - the only player to beat her in the regular season. Friedman finished second the previous year.

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