Gaels tennis team looking to ace season

April 01, 2010

Three years ago, Mount St. Joseph's tennis team finished 0-10, but if the Gaels' early-season exploits are any indication, they just might be headed for the best tennis season in school history.

They opened with their first-ever win over McDonogh, the two-time defending Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference champion and one of two teams with a chokehold on the conference title for 14 years. McDonogh and Gilman have won every title during that stretch except in 2001, when Calvert Hall took it.

The Gaels are hoping this will be their year. At 2-0 heading into today's match with Severn, they have assembled a strong collection of veteran players, including three freshmen ranked in the top 26 of the USTA Mid-Atlantic Boys 14 singles: Jordan Portner, Tristan Boustany and Colin Crawford.

Add those three to sophomores Kevin Gates and Matt Bishop, who went unbeaten last season at No. 1 doubles, and seniors Joe LeBate, who is headed to La Salle on a tennis scholarship, and Colin Keenan as well as Matt Wilson and Charles Hartley, the alternate doubles team, and you obviously have high expectations.

"The freshmen play a lot of tournaments and so do the two sophomores and even the senior, Joe LeBate, so we have six of seven kids who play tournaments. That's kind of lucky," eighth-year coach Tom Hughes said. "I don't think a lot of schools have six out of seven who play tournaments."

Last season, the Gaels finished third behind McDonogh and Gilman.

"We've been inching our way up," Hughes said. "That's the highest finish we've ever had. We lost against Gilman and McDonogh last year, so beating McDonogh was a thrill for us, because we had never beaten them before. We don't meet Gilman until the end of the season."

Mark that on your calendar: April 22 at 3:45 p.m., St. Joe at Gilman.

- Katherine Dunn

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