Liberty's junior tennis standout Brittany Bolster has a simple philosophy about her success on the court.
"I just try hard and let my racket do the talking," she said.
Her racket has had plenty to say for three years, especially against Carroll County competition. Bolster has gone 36-0 in the county during that span.
She has received help along the way from senior Chris Brown, Liberty's No. 1 boys singles player, who also is 36-0 in the county the past three years.
Brown is 20-4 overall this season, and gained his first berth in this weekend's state tennis tournament as a regional champion by winning last weekend's District VII singles title. He has been to the states before as a second-place regional finisher.
Brown and Bolster are friends and hit together often, pushing each other to improve their games. When the two play against each other, Brown said that Bolster beats him "sometimes" because of her patient baseline style, compared to his big serve-and-volley game, which leads to unforced errors.
"That helps me work on my forehand and backhand," said Brown, who plans to attend Neumann College near Philadelphia, where he will try out for the tennis team.
"Chris went through a maturation process this year where his ability to be composed on the court masked his skills as a player," Liberty co-coach Bruce Damasio said. "He went through a growth process where he had to adjust to handling different situations on the court, and then raise or maintain his level of play accordingly."
Damasio believes the best "thing about Chris' play in both the county and regional tournament last weekend was that he was able to keep his composure, and he was able to understand what was needed to be done and he was able to execute."
Tim Brecker, Liberty's other coach, said he could see Brown's ability to control his emotions begin to improve in a late-season match against Frederick.
"He was down a set to their No. 1 player [Michele Barini], and getting frustrated," Brecker said. "But he composed himself and went on to play what I thought was his best tennis of the year to win in three sets. He has maintained that level of play."
Bolster has an overall mark of 23-1 this season. Her only loss was in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1, to Bethany Springer of Thomas Johnson.
"It was a tough loss because I wasn't on my game, and she was definitely on hers," Bolster said. "That was definitely a toughie. But I'm hoping to play her again in the states."
Bolster, like Brown, gained a berth in this weekend's state tournament for the first time as a regional champion by winning last weekend's District VII singles title.
The three-time county champion has been to the state tournament once before as a second-place regional finisher.
Bolster has risen to a high level in tennis through long hours of practice. She has perfected her serve with pinpoint placement and improved her overall baseline game.
"A lot of people say that my serve is pretty good," she said. "I try to advance my serve, I guess you would call it, to win the point.
"I know I have to be more consistent on my shots to beat the better players. And I'm going to work on coming to the net more often. I also have to make my shots a little bit harder."
Although she entered the state tournament with lofty credentials, she had a modest goal.
"I'm hoping to win at least my first round and take it from there," Bolster said. "That would be the farthest I've ever advanced at the states."
In listing Bolster's best qualities as a player, Damasio said: "Consistency, dedication, a great work ethic, good practice player, and a year-round player.
"She is an outstanding role model for other players on the team."