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Howard County talent leads way to titles for Mount St. Joseph tennis

Mount St. Joseph tennis coach Tom Hughes was sad to see the season end after the Gaels' exceptional two-year run concluded with back-to-back Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference titles, halting the dominance of McDonogh and Gilman after more than two decades.

Mount St. Joe also has had the best showing of any team in the MIAA individual tournament in the past two years.

The Gaels' accomplishments were led by four nationally ranked players: seniors Jordan Portner, Tristan Boustany, Colin Crawford and junior Matt Phelps. Portner (Clarksville), Boustany (Elkridge) and Crawford (River Hill) are all Howard County residents.

Hughes knows, though, the rebuilding is coming.

"We will come down to earth next year," said Hughes, whose team has lost only two matches since the 2010 season. "Of course, I am losing them. I can't keep them forever. But it was a nice ride for four years."

After Mount St. Joseph cruised past Gilman, 4-1, in the team championships on May 10, the Gaels wrapped up the individual tournament by capturing two singles and a doubles championship.

Tristan Boustany won the No. 2 singles title over Gilman's Cole Sutton, 6-2, 6-3.

Boustany went 25-0 over the last two seasons and will play next year at Saint Joseph's University on a tennis scholarship.

He finished his career just the way he had hoped.

"Winning as a senior was important for me," Boustany said. "I wanted to win before I go off to college."

Catonsville resident Phelps beat Gilman's Henry Barrett, at No. 3 singles, 6-3, 6-0. That match was a contrast from the regular season when Phelps needed three sets to prevail over the Greyhound.

Phelps didn't lose a match all season, going 12-0 at a new level of competition.

"This is the first time I played singles on a school team," Phelps said. "Tennis is an individual sport and you have to get over nerves and everything like that. It helps you get in the right mindset. You don't have a partner with you. It helps you mature and grow."

Hughes and Phelps have their eye on 2014.

"He is going to want to be playing No. 1 for us," the coach said. "And he will probably be our heir apparent at No. 1 next year. Matt will probably be battling out to be one of the best players in the league. It will be between him and kids at Gilman, McDonogh and Friends."

Mount St. Joseph's other title came at No. 1 doubles with Quentin Boustany and Colin Crawford defeating Gilman's Graham Duncan and Huntington Williams, 6-1, 6-2.

The Gaels' No. 2 doubles team of Will Dawkins and Mike Macari, a Catonsville resident, lost in the quarterfinal round.

Portner, a Georgetown University recruit, suffered his first loss of the season in 12 decisions, losing a three-set match to McDonogh's Jake Gober.

For some Gaels, the win over Gilman in the team championships gave them confidence and momentum heading into the individual tournament.

"I really wanted to win the team title more than anything," Tristan Boustany said. "That's what it really was about the whole year. It was great to win the team titles against the big titans in tennis, McDonogh and Gilman. Usually, McDonogh and Gilman are really seen as the country-club sports schools."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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