Savvy Pikesville controls Baltimore County tourney

Host Panthers capture three of the five divisions


High Schools

November 02, 2003|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Pikesville turned in such a dominating performance in the final round of yesterday's Baltimore County Badminton Tournament that its opponents could do little more than watch the birdie.

The host Panthers won three of the five divisions. Pikesville also took two thirds, plus one second-place finish, in mixed doubles, where two Panthers teams were in the finals, just a few days after winning the county team championship.

Pikesville coach Marlene Honkofsky said the team was trying to rebound from a bit of a down season last fall. The Panthers had dominated county badminton for several years but saw a senior-laden Dulaney team win the team title and then win two gold medals at the tournament last fall.

The Panthers beat Dulaney earlier this season in a close match, 7-4, but routed the Lions, 10-1, in the county title match. Honkofsky said the experience gained from last year paid dividends this season and especially in this tournament.

"Last year, I had a young team," Honkofsky said. "This year, I had nine seniors, and it helps to have that experience."

Senior Greg Ziskind finished a long personal climb with his championship. He started out as the team manager in ninth grade, and Honkofsky let him practice with the team. Ziskind eventually grew into a player who came away with his first gold medal yesterday, outlasting Perry Hall's Ben Graf, 5-15, 15-10, 15-4, in the finals.

Seniors Jason Appelbaum and Brian Hirshfeld finished second last year and took it up a level this season to score a 15-8, 15-3 victory over Catonsville's Steve Mitchell and Jeremy Herbert to earn their first gold medals. In addition, Pikesville's Brian Grochal and Bryan Feldman took third place.

The mixed doubles turned out to be an all-Pikesville final. Elyse Weitzman and Kyle Washington, who had played just three matches together during the season, held off teammates Kaitlin Geller and Justin Stappler, 15-3, 10-15, 15-13.

Weitzman and Washington proved to be a good combination that covered the entire court nicely and had to battle through a tough third game. Geller had been there before, winning a gold medal last year with then-senior Jordan Manekin. Pikesville's Carly Beitler and Karina Lipsman earned the team's other medal with a bronze in girls' doubles. Zara Berengut finished fourth for the Panthers in girls singles, losing to eventual champion Ashley Himelfarb (Franklin) in a tough three-set semifinal.

"It just seemed like everything we worked for paid off," Hirshfeld said.

Said Appelbaum: "This year we were more focused than last year. We were very supportive of everyone on the team."

Dulaney's lone championship came when Kara Tu and Katie Boronow beat Hereford's Mariah Kellam and Hannah Krug, 15-9, 6-15, 15-9. Tu and Boronow won all 13 regular-season matches and finished 18-0.

"They played just great together," Dulaney coach Sharon Spangenberg said. "They were wonderful this year."

Himelfarb's championship was her first, and it came with a 14-17, 15-4, 15-2 victory over Hereford's Becca Elligson.

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