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Atholton looks to rule Howard County tennis again in 2013

At the end of the 2012 tennis season, Reservoir's Biyik Akinshemoyin had unfinished business to attend to after being forced to retire from the state finals because of heat cramps.

"No one likes the way it ended, because the match was very interesting (tied 3-3 in the third set) and everyone wanted to see how it ended," Akinshemoyin said last summer. "But for me I just take it as a lesson. You have to stay hydrated and I've been working on that."

At the time, Akinshemoyin still wasn't sure whether he'd be applying that lesson to high school tennis this spring, or strictly to a rigorous USTA tournament schedule, a decision that many top players have to make each spring.

Luckily for Reservoir High School, and Howard County tennis as a whole, Akinshemoyin has decided to make one final run at a state title. If successful, he'll be the first Howard County singles state champ since Wilde Lake's David Nguyen won in 2006.

"He definitely wants to win a state championship," coach Karen Wolfe said. "He was just so disappointed when he had to withdraw, and he wants to redeem himself, even though he doesn't have to."

And this year, Akinshemoyin should once again have some competition for the county title.

While he will be heavily favored against each of his league opponents, Atholton senior Scott Lee and Howard senior Andrew Pagan are both talented enough to give him a good run.

And on the girls side, Atholton sophomore Victoria Kogan — the defending county and regional champion — should once again be the favorite, although Wilde Lake junior Melissa Barall is capable of scoring an upset victory.

Atholton has a young team, with four freshmen or sophomores playing singles or No. 1 doubles, but almost everyone has USTA experience.

Opponents "are really stacking up the doubles this year, so it will be interesting to see how they do against my doubles," said Atholton coach Mike Ashmead.

With the addition of Glenelg transfers Byron and Rita Hung to its line-up, River Hill will look to derail Atholton on its quest for a second straight Howard County Cup tournament trophy. The Hawks won four straight county tournament titles between 2008 and 2011.

 

Courtside

Here's a look at each Howard County team heading into the season.

 

Atholton

Coach: Michael Ashmead, third season

Boys: 14-3; Girls: 16-1 (county champion). County Cup champion.

Boys singles: Senior Scott Lee and freshman Logan Connelly

Boys doubles: Junior George Mao and freshman Matt Sklar

Girls singles: Sophomore Victoria Kogan and freshman Irene Lu

Girls doubles: Senior Rachel Knobel and junior Margaret Tatum

Scouting report: The Raider boys are strong at the top with Lee, but graduated quite a bit. The girls on the other hand return almost everyone from a team that went 16-1 last year, including county champs Kogan (singles), Knobel and Tatum (doubles).

 

Centennial

Coach: Erin Fisher, first season

Boys: 10-5; Girls: 13-2

Boys singles: Seniors Kevin Hsieh and Chase Weinberg

Boys doubles: Junior Farhan Bader and freshman Andrew Tsai

Girls singles: Seniors Simone Jensen and Megan Mishra, sophomore Lexi Hackerman

Girls doubles: Junior Ally Schito and sophomore Gaby Schito

Quick hit: Weinberg won county and regional titles at doubles as a sophomore, then placed third at regions in singles last year. Mishra was a county and regional finalist at girls doubles last year, but will miss the beginning of the season recovering from an injury. The top doubles spot for both boys and girls is hotly contested, and could change as the season progresses. Christina Harris, who coached the Eagles last year, has switched roles with former assistant coach Erin Fisher this year.

 

Glenelg

Coach: Christine Gaylor and Mary Ellen Doyle, 14th season

Boys: 9-8; Girls: 11-6

Boys singles: Senior Brett Kellaher, junior Louis Colangelo, seniors Danny Facchina and Nick Pham

Boys doubles: Junior Mitchell Furst, seniors Ryan LePage and Sean Nichols

Girls singles: Senior Sabrina LeBon and sophomore Clara Wang

Girls doubles: Seniors Rachel Hall, Jess Dietz and Leigh Oehrig, junior Christina Le

Quick hit: The Gladiators lost both of their boys singles players: Brett Eisenberg, who graduated, and Byron Hung, who transferred. The Gladiator girls are especially deep and talented. Longtime coach Mary Ellen Doyle has retired from teaching, but will still help coach the team.

 

Hammond

Coach: Omri Kagan, second season

Boys: 6-11; Girls: 2-15

Boys singles: Freshman Jonathan Gorel and junior Advait Chauhan

Boys doubles: Christopher Rose and Matthew Neuman

Girls singles: Junior Katie Cheuvront and Dayesha Sims

Girls doubles: Senior Robyn Jasper and junior Sherri Green

Quick hit: The Golden Bear boys had a turnaround season last spring, but graduated a wealth of talent. The girls doubles team of Jasper and Green remains intact after playing together last spring.

 

Howard

Coach: Chip Boling, sixth season

Boys: 16-1 (co-county champion); Girls: 6-11

Boys singles: Senior Andrew Pagan and junior Kevin Lopez

Boys doubles: Senior Sahil Desai and junior Max Balter

Girls singles: Junior Emma Hoesman and sophomore Natalie Kisak

Girls doubles: Seniors Michelle Hwang and Maddie Schroeder

Quick hit: Last year, the Lions boys won a share of their first county title in more than 20 years, but graduated five starters. Lopez and Balter could alternate between singles and doubles play. Pagan, who won county and regional championships last year with Seth Hoesman at doubles, lost only one singles match last year: to Akinshemoyin. Emma Hoesman was also a county and regional champion last year at mixed doubles, and placed third in the state along with Kyle Shope.

 

Long Reach

Coach: Bill Flick, eighth season

Boys: 4-13; Girls: 4-13

Boys singles: Freshman Taw Du and sophomore Ben Eapen

Boys doubles: Seniors Hugo Caldwell and Jeremy Tsao

Girls doubles: Junior Cara Jordan, sophomore Melody Tsao, senior Brianna Goode and junior Kate Harkleroad

Quick hit: Long Reach ended a two-year losing streak last season with four wins each for the boys and girls teams. Caldwell and Tsao are teammates on their offseason club team, and the doubles teams for both the boys and girls could be stronger than the singles.

 

Marriotts Ridge

Coach: Scott Dingman, eighth season

Boys: 8-9; Girls: 15-2

Boys singles: Freshman Cade Buch, and sophomore Connor Bivens or senior Asim Shafique

Boys doubles: Juniors Ben Klawson and Jack Weymer

Girls singles: Sophomore Alana Ravasio and junior Carolyn Keeney

Girls doubles: Senior Nicole Leaf and freshman Anna Xi

Quick hit: The Mustang girls are 29-4 over the past two seasons and return almost their entire 2012 ladder, including Leaf, who completed an undefeated regular season at mixed doubles last year, and Ravasio, who placed fourth at the county and regional tournaments as a freshman.

 

Mt. Hebron

Coach: Lisa Vitali, eighth season

Boys: 9-7; Girls: 7-9

Boys singles: Junior Collin Chase and senior Eric Lee, freshman Rhil Bahri or sophomore Corey Wiggs

Boys doubles: Seniors Sam Borchers and Evan Chase

Girls singles: Sophomore Hannah Kang

Girls doubles: Junior Kiran Pant and sophomores Serene Mathew and Stephanie Carroll

Quick hit: The deep Vikings have been fortified by several strong transfers, including Kang (Connecticut) and Pant (New York), and freshmen. Borchers (ankle) and No. 2 doubles player Sam Weber (knee), both suffered severe injuries in the offseason requiring surgery, but have recovered in time to play as seniors. As a freshman, Mathew — alongside teammate Sahini Pothireddy — won a regional girls doubles title.

 

Oakland Mills

Coach: Victoria Knuckles, sixth season

Boys: 0-16; Girls: 0-16

Boys singles: Seniors Jackson Bailey and Kieran Buss

Boys doubles: Senior David Last and junior Shaun Roberts

Girls singles: Juniors Marjorie Buss and Lauren Olson

Girls doubles: Senior Gabby Vincent and Sydney Watson

Quick hit: The Scorpions did not win a match last season, but with their top four boys back from 2012, continuity should be a strength.

 

Reservoir

Coach: Karen Wolfe, fifth season

Boys: 1-16; Girls: 6-11

Boys singles: Seniors Biyik Akinshemoyin and Deepak Salem

Boys doubles: Freshmen Pavan Vemulakonda and Chris Yeh

Girls singles: Senior Lisa Horowitz and junior Gabi Dubovoy

Girls doubles: Sophomore Connie Cho, and freshmen Kayla Krammes, Amanda Farmer and Giovanna Guarnieri

Quick hit: The Gators are very young this season, but the good news is that almost all of the team's top freshmen are USTA veterans who train year round, including Vemulakonda, Yeh and Farmer.

 

River Hill

Coach: Jennifer Stoker, third season

Boys: 16-1 (co-county champion); Girls: 14-3

Boys singles: Junior Byron Hung and freshman Alec Angradi

Boys doubles: Sophomore Nick Zhu and senior David Gerry

Girls singles: Junior Caitlin Stewart-Moore and sophomore Lynette Lee

Girls doubles: Sophomores Rita Hung and Hannah Chun

Quick hit: The Hawks graduated Jimmy Zhan and Oliver Zhao, who placed fourth at the state tournament at doubles, but gained junior Byron Hung and sophomore Rita Hung, who qualified for the state tournament at mixed doubles and transferred in from Glenelg. Senior Kiera Hanrahan, a singles player last year, is playing mixed doubles this year.

 

Wilde Lake

Coach: Ron Shelton, 18th season

Boys: 6-11; Girls: 7-10

Boys singles: Senior David Smart

Boys doubles: Senior Kiho Park

Girls singles: Junior Melissa Barall and sophomore Brittany Hicks

Girls doubles: Junior Candace Ho

Quick hit: Barall placed fourth in the state tournament at mixed doubles as a freshman.

 

Glenelg Country

Coach: Dennis Cochran, 11th season

Boys: 4-4

Boys singles: Sophomore Ryan Lundergan, senior Evan Schlick and junior Sohrob Navai

Boys doubles: Sophomores Marcus Sowter amd Griffin Keane

Quick hit: Lundergan was named an MIAA B Conference All-Star last year after placing second at the MIAA championships with partner Chris Jacobs, who will play No. 2 doubles this year.

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