Tennis: Emily Brecker, Noelle Htwar give Liberty first girls doubles state title

Tennis: Emily Brecker, Noelle Htwar give Liberty first girls doubles state title
Liberty girls doubles players Noelle Htwar, third from left, and Emily Brecker pose with their coaches Barry Green, left, Connor Riggin, and Tim Brecker after winning the Class 2A girls doubles state championship May 25, 2019. (Courtesy photo)

In the middle of what seemed like more photographs being taken than the ones snapped before a prom, Emily Brecker loosened her hold on Noelle Htwar, her girls doubles teammate, and spoke her mind.

“This is more exhausting than the match,” she said with a smile, while Htwar tried to keep her composure.


First they posed with their opponents. Then their coaches jumped in. Parents were next, one picture with the moms and another one with the dads.

So it goes when you’ve just made school history — Brecker and Htwar earned Liberty’s first tennis state championship when the juniors won the Class 2A title Saturday at Wilde Lake Tennis Club.

Brecker and Htwar topped River Hill’s Maanasa Gurram and Siri Jale in straight sets, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4, and capped an undefeated season with a come-from-behind victory. Their win also stands as Carroll’s first girls doubles tennis state title since 2005, when Melissa Wallace and Alyssa Thayer won a championship for Westminster.

The Lions duo trailed 4-1 in the first set but held serve down 5-4 and again at 6-5 to force a tiebreaker. Htwar, who struggled to find her serve throughout the match, came up with a few big ones during the tiebreak victory.

Brecker and Htwar fell behind 2-0 in the second set but put together two breaks against River Hill’s serve to turn the momentum, then broke the Hawks’ serve leading 5-4 and pulled out the win. River Hill staved off one match point, but returned a volley into the net for the final tally.

Htwar said playing with Brecker together for several years proved critical in a match the teammates agreed wasn’t a display of their best tennis.

“We’ve worked literally our whole lives for this,” she said. “We wanted this match more than anything.”

Brecker and Htwar won Carroll County and 2A West Region titles this spring without dropping a set, and did the same at the state tournament to finish the year at 21-0.

Gurram and Jale handed Liberty its first serious case of adversity, however, in the final. They took advantage of some unforced errors and had the Lions frustrated in the early stages of the match.

“I told Noelle, I said we needed one game, and that would start the momentum,” Brecker said. “And that’s what we did.”

Liberty had a third-place boys doubles states finish with junior Ray Woodward and senior Dylan Gettier, who cruised past Fallston’s Caden Ritchey and Brad Richenderfer 6-1, 6-0 in the consolation final. Woodward and Gettier (20-1) posted the best showing by any boys player in Liberty history, said co-coaches Tim Brecker and Barry Green.

Manchester Valley senior Matthew Fairchild, the county and 3A West boys singles champ, came in fourth at states after losing the consolation final against Bel Air’s Vivekraj Harinarayan. Fairchild ended his season at 20-2.

State titles in tennis are tough to come by for Carroll — the county owns three girls doubles crowns and one girls singles title since the tournament began in 1975, but none on the boys side. Emily Brecker and Htwar cherished their championship, as did their coaches.

Tim Brecker in particular. He was on the phone with older daughter Abby Brecker, who played in a girls doubles state final in 2016, moments after taking photos with his youngest and her doubles partner, letting her know the good family news.


“Before this whole tournament … I print out the word ‘unflappable,’ and the definition,” Tim Brecker said. “I said, ‘This is our word for the tournament.’ We kept going back to that, and today I thought they practiced what we preached.

“I couldn’t be more proud. It’s very special to us, obviously.”