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Duex tops teammate Koenig for county tennis title No. 2 for Owls girls downs No. 1 in 3 sets


HAMPSTEAD -- The girls singles final at yesterday's Carroll County Tennis Championships at North Carroll High School presented few surprises to Becky Duex and Mandy Koenig.

As teammates at Westminster High, they played each other several times a week throughout the season. Yesterday, their knowledge of each other showed.

In a back and forth match throughout, Duex escaped with a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 win to avenge her loss to Koenig in last year's final.

"It's horrible having to play her," said Duex, the Owls' No. 2 singles player behind her opponent. "I tried not to think of her as my teammate, but as just another opponent. It feels great to win, though."

After winning the first set, Duex had a chance for a straight sets victory after leading 5-4 in the second. Koenig, however, fought back to win the next three games and the set. From there, Duex gained control.

She said the win was a bit surprising, considering the way she usually struggles against Koenig in practice.

"Somedays in practice she'll blow me out of the water," said Duex, a senior, "and somedays I just keep up. That's what I did today, I kept up."

For Westminster girls coach Ken Shook, the matchup was an automatic victory.

"Either one who wins I have to be happy," said Shook. "They're both on my team."

In other matches, South Carroll continued its dominance on the doubles scene, winning boys, girls and mixed for the second straight year.

The South Carroll boys team of Eric Peterson and Paul Weinhardt defeated Ryan Dunham and Rob Hobson of Liberty, 7-5, 6-3.

Although the two competed individually as singles players this year, their status as lifelong next-door neighbors -- and opponents -- gave them the upper hand in chemistry.

After a hard-fought first-set win, the combo took four of the first five games in the second set to cruise to the victory.

"I was a little surprised," said Weinhardt, a junior. "We didn't think we played so good, especially in the first set."

Peterson said the turning point in the match occurred with his team leading, 2-1, in the second set. After several attempts, the senior won his serve to increase the lead to 3-1, and give his team control of the match.

Then in mixed doubles, the first time proved the charm for South Carroll's tandem of Amber Clutter and Brad Baker. Teaming for the first time in competition, the duo scored a 7-6 (7-3), 6-1 win over Liberty's Dawn Wilhelm and Steve Speck.

Later, the team of Gretchen Fogle and Nikki Robitaille defeated North Carroll's team of Sheri Chatfield and Christi Lough, 6-4, 6-3, to complete the sweep.

"I don't know what it is," said South Carroll coach Jim Carnes. "I don't think strokes or strategy has much to do with it. They're all just really competitive."

Early in the day, the boys singles final took center stage.

Bryan Ninosky of Liberty and Marco Fuggitti of Westminster had entered the match having split a pair of decisions during the season. Yesterday, Fuggitti broke the tie with a 7-5, 6-1 win.

"I had more control of the match this time," said Fuggitti, who raised his season record to 14-2. "The differences were that I took my time, and my dad was here."

Ninosky won the first two games of the match, and led, 5-3, late in the first set.

Then Fuggitti took charge.

He won the next four games to take the set, 7-5, and continued his dominance through the second set. Fuggitti ended the match by winning 10 of the last 11 games.

"I think the difference was the toll the first set took mentally on Bryan," said Westminster coach Fran McCullin.

McCullin said he was never worried when Fuggitti fell behind early in the match.

"He's always been a slow starter," said McCullin. "When he started the match by going down, 2-0, that was par for the course for him. We weren't too upset."

Fuggitti, though, said his slow start worried him a bit.

"I had doubts," he said. "In the second set, though, I knew I could take him. The momentum started going my way."

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