Westminster takes long, winning road

Homeless tennis teams drive to top of standings

Notebook

High Schools

April 27, 2003|By Jeff Seidel and Rich Scherr | Jeff Seidel and Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Westminster's girls and boys tennis teams have been at the top of the county and Central Maryland Conference standings all season, putting on impressive performances - even more impressive considering that they're teams without a home.

The Owls haven't played a home match in the past two seasons because the school's courts were ruled by an insurance company to be unfit for competition, though OK for practice. They've had to play every match away from Westminster, and coach Fran McCullin is hopeful the courts will be ready for competitive play next spring.

McCullin said the surface of the school's four courts has simply worn away, and footing can be treacherous at times. He said there have been a few slips and falls during practices, though nothing serious.

"My hope was they were going to be [rebuilt] last [spring, summer or fall] and we were going to be on them for matches this spring," McCullin said. "But that didn't occur."

The Owls will play a pair of home matches against South Carroll and North Carroll at nearby Winters Mill early next month. McCullin said money has been committed to fix the school courts during this fiscal year, and he's been told they'll be ready for next season.

It hasn't seemed to affect either the boys or girls. Both kept rolling Friday with a sweep of Century.

The win improved the girls to 12-1 overall and in the Central Maryland Conference (where they're tied for first) and to 7-0 in the county (first place). The boys moved to 10-3 overall and in the CMC, and are now tied with Liberty for first in the county at 6-1; the teams have split their two matches and won't play again.

McCullin said the extra traveling has been difficult at times. The Owls used to have to leave early to take longer drives to Linganore, Urbana, Thomas Johnson and Frederick four times a year. Now, they're doing it eight times.

Hutchins recovering

Just four weeks after suffering a broken leg and torn knee ligament in a car accident, Westminster boys lacrosse goalie J.C. Hutchins continues to make rapid progress toward a recovery.

The senior is scheduled to begin rehabilitation on his left knee Tuesday, and will be able to begin walking without crutches this week.

Hutchins said doctors have decided not to perform surgery on his torn posterior cruciate ligament, because it shouldn't have a major affect on his ability to play sports.

He will, however, take a medical redshirt for his freshman football season at McDaniel College, and expects to be back at full strength by next lacrosse season.

Considered by many to be the top goalie in Carroll County, Hutchins was transported to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center on March 28 after a two-car collision on Route 97 near the Pennsylvania line. He will miss the rest of the season.

Expanded optimism

A vote Friday to expand the state football playoffs is good news for Carroll County, which has had several teams make runs at the postseason in recent years only to fall short.

The proposal, which still needs to be ratified by school superintendents on May 19, would raise the number of playoff qualifiers from 32 to 64, including the top four teams in each region.

"I'm pretty excited for Maryland football," said Westminster coach Scott Tobias. "It's going to give a lot more teams opportunities to participate in the postseason, so I think it's a good thing. Some of those teams that are on the cusp with 9-1 or 8-2 records will get a chance to play."

The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association's Board of Control voted, 48-7, in favor of expansion. If ratified, the scenario would mean that state finalists would play 14 games instead of the current 13.

For many area coaches, the action is long overdue.

"If it didn't pass, it would've set football in this state back 20 years," said South Carroll coach Gene Brown. "It's a move that was needed."

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