County tennis players hope to serve up state titles


Two singles players and two doubles squads from the county will take to the tennis courts at the University of Maryland today in hopes of winning state championships.

Old Mill's Matt Servinsky and South River's Priya Vajani will be looking for boys and girls state titles, respectively. Both won county and regional tourneys at Chesapeake High last weekend.

Matt Pharr and Phil White of Old Mill will vie for the boys doubles title after placing second in the regional last weekend, while region champs Mark Meyer and Staci Jenkins of Chesapeake will aim for a mixed-doubles title.

Servinsky defeated Howard County foe Dan Oppenheim of Centennial, 6-3, 6-2, in Saturday's final, running his season record to 20-0. The Patriots senior downed Broadneck's Wade Berusch in a semifinal, 6-4, 1-0, as Berusch defaulted the match because of a shoulder injury.

"I feel like I'm playing pretty well right now. My forehand feels pretty good, and I'm not burning myself out by practicing too hard. I'm more or less grooving my strokes by hitting with some guys from local colleges," said Servinsky, who lost in the first round of last year's state tournament.

Servinsky credited Chesapeake freshman phenom Jay Kimmel for helping pave the way for his easy victory. Kimmel, a runner-up to Servinsky in the county finals and third-place region finisher, lost to Oppenheim in a three-set semifinal match that lasted two hours and 45 minutes.

Vajani, only a freshman, won the region crown with a decisive 6-2, 6-4 win over another freshman, Keely Alexander of Hammond High in Howard County.

The steady backcourter has lost only one match during the regular season -- against Arundel's Jen Whitley. Vajani earned revenge during the county finals, 6-4, 6-0.

Although Pharr and White were upset in the region finals, the Old Mill duo qualified for state play with a second-place finish. Tim Hohman and Tim Cross of Wilde Lake (Howard County) defeated the defending county champs, 7-6, 6-1.

"I think we were a little too tentative in the finals," said White, who along with 1991 graduate Brent Layman won the state doubles title last year. "We played a close first set, then we broke down both mentally and physically. Plus, our shot selection wasn't good at all."

The Patriot twosome won't be seeded for the tourney, but White doesn't think that will keep them from making an impact.

"I saw the draw, and I think we have a good chance at making the semifinals, maybe even the finals," said White. "We've been practicing well all week. We're hitting a lot better."

Meyer and Jenkins qualified by winning their grudge match against Severna Park's Ben Rawitt and Erica Fulton. After losing to Rawitt and Fulton in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3, in the finals of the county tourney, the Cougar pair turned the tables by taking a 7-5, 6-2 regional win.

"We both played with different rackets [during the county tourney] because both of us had broken strings," said Meyer, who along with 1991 grad Tim Marshall was eliminated in the first round of the 1991 regionals.

"This time, we just took one point at a time. Staci has been the key. She's very consistent, and she can return the hard shots. I think she's a better girl than I am as a boy, and that's important in mixed doubles."

Today's matches begin at 9 a.m., with the semifinal rounds scheduled for 10 a.m. tomorrow. The final rounds will start at about noon tomorrow.

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