It looks like advantage Gilman

The Greyhounds appear to have the edge over perennial rival McDonogh in the battle for MIAA supremacy.

March 15, 2006|By JEFF SEIDEL | JEFF SEIDEL,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The tennis teams at McDonogh and Gilman have battled for the top spot in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association - and previously the Maryland Scholastic Association - throughout the past two decades. McDonogh usually fared better, winning 14 of the past 19 championships, with the Greyhounds often finishing right behind.

But things might change this year. Gilman will field a solid singles lineup that should test defending A Conference champion McDonogh. Gilman, which last won the conference title in 2003 - beating McDonogh- has junior Ted Kelly returning to take over the No. 1 spot, followed by senior Chris Mason (No. 2) and junior Zach Gorn.

That gives the Greyhounds (12-3 last year) such a strong lineup that they won't need to worry much about doubles in the MIAA's best-of-five match format.

"I've got three kids who could all play No. 1," Gilman coach Jim Busick, in his 27th season, said. "These are the strongest three players I've ever had on a team at once."

McDonogh coach Laddie Levy usually has a strong lineup, but Player of the Year Andy Peters isn't playing on the team this spring. Seniors Joel Posner and Matt Ford, plus sophomore Alexander Centenari, should handle singles and help McDonogh (12-2) battle Gilman.

Beth Tfiloh and John Carroll both move up to the A Conference from the B and could make an impact. For Beth Tfiloh, sophomore Ron Friedman will be at No. 1 singles after combining last year with Jarren Ginsburg to win a B Conference title at No. 1 doubles.

The private schools don't have girls playing in the spring. But boys and girls both compete in the public schools, and in Baltimore County, Pikesville again will likely be the team to beat.

The Panthers have won the county title for 38 of the past 40 years and went 12-0 last year. For the boys, junior Paul Petrov starts at No. 1 and will be pressed by freshman Paul Burgin (former professional player Elise Burgin's nephew) and classmates Andrew Lutz and Justin Lui. Senior Dan Schwartz was a county champion in mixed doubles last year, and sophomore Michael Soforenko played on a regional championship doubles team.

Pikesville sophomore Natalie Bernier is at No. 1 singles, but freshman Lolita Kachay will push for that spot. The girls don't have as much depth as the boys, but coach Jerry Dresner said he isn't worried.

Catonsville and Hereford could challenge Pikesville.

Hereford went 11-3 last year and has 11 players back. Sophomore Katherine Charchalis returns at No. 1 singles after going undefeated in the regular season and taking second in the region. Coach Mark Trotta's team lost No. 2 Jamie Senica from the girls' lineup due to back problems, however, and her status is unclear.

The Bulls' top two boys, junior Dan Valerino and senior David Moore, return to anchor the lineup.

Catonsville went 16-1 last year but lost some key players, including Ashley Harvey to graduation after she won three county titles. County and regional champion Matt McDaniel is back at No. 1 singles after making it to the state quarterfinals, and senior Matt Wooten also returns.

In Carroll County, the Liberty girls won last year's title and should again be the team to beat. Top singles players Brittany Bolster and Debbie Jackson return along with some good doubles teams. Most of the county teams lost key players, including Westminster's state championship doubles team of Melissa Wallace and Alyssa Thayer.

The boys' competition figures to be wide open, as defending county champion Century lost several seniors and will be rebuilding. Liberty brings back junior Chris Brown and some good doubles teams, while North Carroll returns Reid Smetzer at singles among others.

In Harford County, C. Milton Wright has won 78 straight matches since its last loss six years ago. The Mustangs have won five straight Harford County/Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference titles.

C. Milton Wright lost Roger Torres (91-5 career record) to graduation, and the Mustangs have only five of last year's 16 starters back. But one of them - senior Jessica Ahn, the All-Metro Player of the Year - returns at No. 1, along with seniors Kristie Trinchere and junior Whitney Torchia. Senior Brad Hanly moves to No. 1.

"I don't really think there's any pressure [about the streak] starting a new season with new players," Mustangs coach Peter Griffiths said. "Although there is a streak, the season is new."

Fallston finished second last year and should challenge the Mustangs, as could Bel Air under new coach Mike Daniel.

Expect changes in Howard County. The Reservoir girls went 17-0 last year to win the county title, but lost their top two players (Ally Spector and Meredith Ely) to graduation. Juniors Angela Tenanglia and Deepa Jonnagadla will try to replace them.

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