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Springs Sports Preview: 3 things to watch for tennis in 2019

Springs Sports Preview: 3 things to watch for tennis in 2019
Liberty's Noelle Htwar, pitcured, teamed with Emily Brecker to win the girls doubles county championship in 2018, (Ken Koons / Carroll County Times)

The state tournament wasn’t all that kind to Carroll County’s boys and girls tennis participants in 2018.

The county had representation in each of the tournament’s five brackets, and some experienced success, but no one managed to get past the first day of action at Wilde Lake Tennis Club in Columbia.

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All but three of those players who played in the state tourney are gone, so Carroll’s 2019 season will feature new faces trying to become champions and enjoy a postseason run.

Here are three things to watch for the upcoming season:

New singles champs will be crowned at the county tournament

Liberty’s Steven Goetz and Century’s Leah Sharkey dominated last year’s boys and girls singles landscape — the Lions senior and Knights freshman each took unbeaten records into the state tourney before bowing out.

Goetz graduated after earning a second straight Times Boys Player of the Year honor; Century coach Amber Nievod said via email that Sharkey, the reigning Girls Player of the Year, decided to pass on her sophomore season this spring to instead focus more on her United States Tennis Association junior career.

Goetz went 20-1 last year. Sharkey finished 21-1.

Both players won county and regional tournament titles along the way.

Look for Manchester Valley senior Matthew Fairchild to be a boys singles contender. He took second last year at the county tourney, and fourth at regionals. Fairchild posted a 14-7 record. Liberty co-coach Tim Brecker said via email senior Tyger Zan is aiming to fill the void left at No. 1 singles. Zan went 7-2 playing singles in 2018.

Kaitlin Conway, a senior, could be replacing Sharkey as Century’s top girls singles player. Conway went 10-2 a season ago.

Many teams will be tweaking their lineups in the season’s first few weeks, so expect more spots to take shape once April hits.

All-county talent still remains despite big graduation losses

Liberty returns a first-team all-county boys doubles tandem from 2018 in senior Dylan Gettier and junior Ray Woodward. They went 15-1 and played third at the regional tourney.

MV’s Fairchild is back after a first-team all-county nod last spring.

On the girls side, only the Lions’ doubles duo of Emily Brecker and Noelle Htwar are back from the 2018 all-county first team. The juniors won a county tournament title together last spring, and played in the state tourney (1-1 record) after a runner-up finish at regionals.

Brecker and Htwar went 19-2 as a team.

Liberty has long winning streaks still intact

The Lions won boys and girls regular-season Carroll County Athletic League championships last year in impressive fashion. Both teams went 12-0 and extended their streaks of consecutive wins.

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Liberty’s girls have won 63 matches in a row, a run that dates back to April of 2013. The boys have won 35 straight.

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