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Carroll County Times
Carroll County High School Sports

Many find redemption as new faces claim top titles at Carroll County tennis championships

Last season, Liberty’s Honour Zan finished second in boys singles at the Carroll County championships. South Carroll’s Casey Reno was second in girls singles. Manchester Valley’s Connor Neal and Declan McGarry were third in boys doubles.

Finishing so close to the top can serve as great motivation for the next opportunity. That came this week at the 2022 county tournament as each made the jump to a championship level.

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Zan and Reno won the boys and girls singles county championships, respectively, while Neal and McGarry took home the boys doubles crown. Also, Liberty’s Madison Haggerty and Grace Maerten won the girls doubles championship, and returning state champions, Century twins Evan and Danielle DeLawter, won the mixed doubles championship.

For Zan, winning a title meant conquering his greatest obstacle. Century’s Jack Amerault beat Zan four times last year, including in the county championship match. Amerault also beat Zan in two regular-season meetings this year. But Tuesday’s county championships was Zan’s turn.

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The Liberty junior beat Amerault 7-5, 6-4 to win the county title.

“All of the times he’s beaten me definitely fueled my emotions for that day and really helped me strategize for this next round,” Zan said. “Just the small things, where to place my shots and working on his weaknesses and what my strengths are.”

Zan said he put in a lot of work and developed a strategy that paid off.

“There’s a couple tips my coach gave me that really pushed me over the edge,” he said. “Focusing on what I have to do to beat him, focusing on my strengths so that I can get over the hump and beat him.”

Reno lost last year’s county final to Liberty’s Grace Johnson, who graduated. Reno knew the door was open to take the top spot and put in the work to make it happen.

“I knew that if I wanted to take it over I’d have to put in a lot of work during the season. I definitely pushed myself in practice every day and worked toward it all season this year,” Reno said. “It’s been a while since South Carroll has taken the girls first singles in Carroll County and I just wanted to get the win for my school.”

Reno lost a noncounty match in a tiebreaker to start the season but has been unbeatable since, going undefeated in county play. She defeated Liberty’s Kara Bartolowits 6-3, 6-0 in the final.

“All the girls in the county were great competitors and they all had different play styles,” Reno said. “After playing each of them I kind of picked up their style for when I saw them next on the court. I definitely did gain confidence after each win but I still prepared for the next match.”

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McGarry and Neal made an unexpected run to third in the county. Being so close showed them what they could achieve with another year of experience.

“Last season we came in as our No. 2 doubles team and I’m not even sure we were seeded,” Neal said.

“We weren’t,” McGarry interjected. “We weren’t, but we got third right behind our No. 1 doubles team. ... Knowing we were right at the top already as sophomores, we came into this year knowing we had a really good chance to win if we worked hard for it.

“For the tennis season itself, it’s just a spring sport, but me and Connor play constantly throughout the year. We do rec league over the summer, we do open courts in the fall. I do a winter league. We’re just constantly trying to improve our game, putting in work, playing as much as we can every week of the year.”

They won despite Neal playing with a micro tear in his tricep. He missed some time at the end of the regular season and will need more time off after the postseason.

“The doctor told me I can come back and played the important stuff. But he told me before and after counties and regionals I should probably take a break,” Neal said.

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McGarry and Neal beat Liberty’s Nikhil Andhavarapu and Arjun Mistry, 6-4, 6-4 in the final.

Haggerty won last year’s doubles title with Paige Coulson, but as the only returner she took on a new partner in Maerten. Maerten, a sophomore, said she learned a lot from the senior Haggerty as the season went on.

“I learned that when we’re playing we got to stay positive, fight a lot, stay focused,” Maerten said. “We definitely work really well together, so it was good. She’s more experienced, so she taught me confidence is key and just to hit the shots we can.”

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Despite Haggerty missing the first couple of weeks of the season with an injury, the two meshed well once they took the court together.

“I hit a really good cross-court shot, she hits a really good line shot, so we always joke that’s how we win stuff,” Maerten said. “We hit those shots and it works well with each other. She’s really good at the net, I’m really good back, I think we work really well together.”

They beat Century’s Allison Carver and Jillian Conway in a third-set tiebreaker to win the championship.

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The DeLawters are the only repeat Carroll County champions, beating Westminster’s Logan Gold Miranda Moshang 6-1, 6-0 in the finals. As twins who have played together for years, they feel that gives them an advantage.

“I think just because, especially in Carroll County since mixed isn’t a regular part of the season, I think a lot of the people we play are really just getting together right before counties, right before regionals,” Danielle said. “It’s different for me and Evan since we’ve been playing that much longer together. ... I think there’s an obvious difference in how well we communicate versus the other team.”

Danielle played mostly singles during the regular season, while Evan played doubles with Mark Rolfes. He said it was an easy transition to start playing again with his sister.

“Danielle and Mark have a pretty similar play style. Also, I’ve been playing with Danielle basically my whole life,” Evan said. “We’re used to playing with each other and I’ve been playing with Mark for the past four years of high school. ... They both play the deuce side and I play the [advantage] side. The way I communicate with Danielle and Mark is basically the same.”


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