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Tennis: Lions net another boys county title
Liberty High School boys tennis players Alex Pailer and Josh Kelly, in match against Westminster. (Bill Ryan / Carroll County Times)

Josh Kelly and Alex Pailer began their high school tennis careers as exhibition players, fueled by the idea of one day being regular contributors in Liberty's varsity lineup.

Kelly, a junior, and Pailer, a senior, teamed up last spring and went 18-2 as the Lions' third doubles tandem. But their goals, like those of the entire team, called for more.

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This spring, Kelly and Pailer have gained court time as No. 2 and No. 1 doubles, all the while helping Liberty stay unbeaten. On Wednesday, the Lions beat Westminster 4-1 to secure a second straight county championship.

Kelly and Pailer won at No. 2 doubles, defeated Westminster's Austin Ruddick and Blake Baderian 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, and improved to 9-1. Their lone loss came at No. 1 doubles against Westminster in their first matchup.

Their effort Wednesday helped the Lions (10-0, 10-0 county) win their sixth county crown in nine seasons.

Expectations to win in Eldersburg is a given — the boys team has won 21 consecutive matches; the girls squad, which wrapped up its 10th county title in a row last week, beat the Owls 5-0 to extend its win streak to 49. Liberty's girls haven't lost since April 15, 2013.

"I think it's definitely a good dynamic to have as as team," said Kelly, who pounded an overhead smash on match point that split Ruddick and Baderian down the middle. "We're always working together to win that county championship. Both of us starting on exhibition, we definitely had something to work for."

The motivation starts when the players arrive as freshmen, co-coach Tim Brecker said. Kelly and Pailer remember the feeling. Steven Goetz likes does, too, and by the looks of it the sophomore listened to his coaches talk about work ethic and wanting to be part of something special.

That's part of the reason, perhaps, why Goetz worked his way into the No. 1 singles slot this spring. He swept Westminster's Jimmy Wawrzynski in a competitive match, 7-5, 6-4.

Liberty High School boys tennis coaches Barry Green and Tim Brecker, greet players before match against Westminster.
Liberty High School boys tennis coaches Barry Green and Tim Brecker, greet players before match against Westminster. (Bill Ryan / Carroll County Times)

Graham Jones, who won the boys singles county tournament a year ago as a junior, topped Kunal Parikh at No. 2 singles, 6-1, 6-0. Junior Tyler Shatto and sophomore Reda Babas won at No. 3 doubles in straight sets.

The Owls (5-5, 5-5) got their lone win at No. 1 doubles, where Michael Twery and Max Seibel outlasted Nic Corona and Taylor Mendoza 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.

"We tell the kids, this is a varsity team," said Brecker, who coaches the boys and girls with Barry Green. "The expectation is, they're either in the lineup or they're working to be in the lineup. For the freshmen and sophomores, who might be exhibition players, it's their job in two years or so to be in that lineup and to be contributing. And I think that's taken very seriously by all of our players."

Liberty's girls continued their torrid run through the county this season. The Lions (10-0, 10-0 ) have collected eight 5-0 sweeps, and every match was a straight-set affair Wednesday. Singles players Lili Izadi, a senior, and Abby Brecker, a junior, each ran their records to 10-0.

Nobody on their team wants to be the ones to experience a letdown, which might be another factor that leads to Liberty's program-wise success.

"It's definitely good, especially for the [new] guys coming in," Pailer said. "It pushes them, even if they're not in the lineup, to play the best that they can and get the most out of practice. The attitude here is that everybody will be in the lineup eventually."

Boys

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Liberty 4, Westminster 1

Singles: No. 1: Steven Goetz (L) d. Jimmy Wawrzynski 7-5, 6-4; No. 2: Graham Jones (L) d. Kunal Parikh (W) 6-1, 6-0.

Doubles: No. 1: Michael Twery/Max Seibel (W) d. Nicolas Corona/Taylor Mendoza 3-6, 6-4, 6-3; No. 2: Josh Kelly/Alex Pailer (L) d. Austin Ruddick/Blake Baderian 3-6, 6-4, 6-2; No. 3: Tyler Shatto/Reda Babas (L) d. John Delisannis/Noah Westbrook 6-0, 6-4.

Girls

Liberty 5, Westminster 0

Singles: No. 1: Lili Izadi d. Laniya Davidson 6-0, 6-1; No. 2 Abby Brecker d. Sarah Brown 6-0, 6-0.

Doubles: No. 1: Kendall Hardesty/Allie Woodward d. Kendra Devereux/Kate Ruppert 6-4, 6-1; No. 2: Noelle Htwar/Emily Brecker d. Mariana Yeager/Aislinn Familietti 6-1, 6-0; No. 3: Sofia Corona/Hannah Steier d. Lauren Familietti/Sydney Garman 6-1, 6-1.

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