Tennis: Mount St. Joe sweeps Gilman

Tom Hughes has been teaching physics at Mount St. Joseph for 40 years and coaching the varsity tennis team for 10 years, so he's well aware of history.

Hughes knows what happened on Wednesday afternoon, when the Gaels hosted Gilman, has never happened before.

The unbeaten Gaels swept the previously unbeaten Greyhounds, 5-0, and seized control of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference's top seed.

Although they had beaten Gilman when the Gaels won the 2010 regular-season title for the first time in school history, they won that by a 3-2 margin — not with a clean sweep.

That Gael squad met Gilman in the tournament finals and lost, 3-2.

Hughes knows the 2012 version may be even better.

"A team like this comes along once every 50 years," he said.

St. Joe's No. 1 singles player, junior Jordan Portner, was a freshman on the 2010 squad and knows just a regular-season title will not be satisfactory.

"We've got to finish it," said Portner, who upended Gilman senior Galen Rende, 7-6, 6-2, after the Gaels had already clinched the match victory.

Portner, a southpaw, struggled with the powerful Greyhound in the first set.

"He's got a real big serve, especially in the wind and its real tough to get points from him, because you don't get a lot of rhythm," Portner said.

Rende was impressed with the way Portner adjusted during the first set tie-breaker.

"In the tie-breaker, he kept it pretty consistent and made me miss," Rende said. "He wasn't going for much, just letting me get tired."

Rende may have been fatigued, playing in only his third match since recovering from an auto-immune ailment called Kawasaki disease that sent him to John Hopkins intensive care unit for four days last month.

"Tennis was probably the furthest thing from his mind," first-year Gilman coach Steve Krulevitz said. "He was really, really very sick. I saw him at Hopkins and they didn't know what was wrong with him, but he's back playing now."

Rende and Robbie Demuth are the lone seniors on a Gilman squad that starts three freshmen and two sophomores.

The Gaels also start only two seniors in Matt Bishop and Kevin Gates.

Gates, who will play at St. Joseph's next year, has never lost a regular-season match and he paired with junior Colin Crawford to defeat freshman Jordan Brodie and sophomore Huntington Williams, 6-0, 6-3, in No. 1 doubles.

At the same time, St. Joe's No. 2 singles junior, Tristan Boustany, was udefeating Gilman sophomore Garrett Weinstein, 6-1, 6-2, and giving the Gaels a 2-0 lead in matches.

Bishop clinched the team victory with a 6-2, 6-2 triumph over freshman Cole Sutton at No. 3 singles.

St. Joe's No. 2 doubles team of sophomore Matt Phelps and freshman Quentin Boustany cemented the sweep when they rallied past Demuth and freshman Henry Barnett by winning the second set and tie-breaker.

"The last match (Bishop's win) kind of took the pressure off, but we wanted to win," said Phelps, a Catonsville native. "We realized we had to be more aggressive to win the match and they were taking the net before us so we needed to do what they did to win."

Phelps, who was on varsity as a freshman, sees the reason for the Gaels 7-0 start and 5-0 start in the A Conference.

"We are a deeper team and we are all improved," Phelps said.

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