The Pikesville and McDonogh tennis teams this season will offer a sneak peak of what future seasons are going to look like.
While both the Panthers and Eagles suffered key losses from a year ago, an influx of youth will make significant additions to two of the area's premier programs.
Laddie Levy, coach of McDonogh's boys team and The Sun's Co-Coach of the Year in 1996, spent much of the off-season wondering how his Eagles would respond to the graduation of four-time Maryland Interscholatic Athletic Association A Conference singles champion and Boys Player of the Year Nick Colvin. Then Zach Meyers came along. Meyers, a sophomore who played No. 1 singles at Loyola a year ago, transferred to McDonogh last summer and undoubtedly lessens the blow left by Colvin's departure.
Meyers won't play No. 1 for the Eagles. Sophomore Chris Chiu inherits the top spot after a tremendous 26-0 freshman season at the second singles position. Meyers will follow Chiu, ranked No. 1 in the state among 16-year-olds, with Jon Rodriguez, Richie Granat and David Katz.
"A kid like Nick doesn't come along every day, but Zach really helps the team," Levy said. "The real beauty about having Chiu and Meyers is that they are such strong players."
The defending MIAA A Conference champions the last five years, the Eagles must hold off Gilman. The Greyhounds' top eight players make up one of coach Jim Busick's strongest teams in a long time and include senior returnees Parijat Didolkar and Clayton Apgar at the first and second singles positions. Together, Didolkar and Apgar rank first in the state in doubles in 18-under.
Matt Peters, Amir Zamani and Ung Lee fill out the singles field and give Busick a good mixture of youth and experience.
At Pikesville, second-year coach Brian Kosinski will carry nine underclassmen, including sophomore Gary Diamond, who assumes the top singles spot, and freshman Erica Hirshfeld, whose steady play earned her the No. 2 girls singles position. Diamond was a part of last season's Baltimore County doubles championship team and has Navarro Roscoe, a transfer from Arlington Baptist, playing behind him.
A strong server, junior Jackie Harris inherits No. 1 girls singles. The senior tandem of Greg King and Jesse Mez makes Pikesville's top boys doubles team the top duo in the county.
The rest of the girls team isn't any older after Hirshfeld and Kosinski has such skills among sophomores Wendy West and Daniel Gordon and freshmen Natalie Diamond and Samantha Warranch that the girls doubles team likely will not be decided until several playoffs.
The rest of the county has as many as five teams hoping to stay within reach of the defending champion Panthers.
In the Central Division, whether Dulaney or Overlea can keep pace with Pikesville will depend on the consistent play from singles players. Dulaney, too, is rather young and its doubles field is less experienced but coach Pat Heil hopes to get some victories from sophomores Adam Derrer and Alex Obaza, at No. 1 and 2, respectively, and top girls player Katie Camarata, one of just three seniors.
Overlea's confidence is bolstered by a breakthrough season (7-5 in 1996) a year ago and the return of its top three players -- Dhaval Tejani, Scott Twele and Erin Coffman -- all seniors. With a stronger boys team, a untested girls team will decide how good Overlea can be.
A semifinalist in last season's county tournament, Owings Mills is set for a repeat run this year. Coach Al Steinberg (fifth year) has one of his largest teams, 25 players, and a lot of balance. The boys are led by Aaron Bernstein at No. 1 singles but Michael Karloff, playing No. 2, is expected to challenge Bernstein. The situation is similar for the girls singles with freshman Ellen Chung holding the top spot, but Rebecca Hoffberg, at No. 2, is not far behind.
The Eagles' doubles teams have Alex Feldman and Rebecca Stewart looking to get back to the mixed doubles tournament championship.
Perry Hall won't get tested in the East Division and already avenged one of its two losses in 1996 by beating Owings Mills last week. The county runner-ups bring a much stronger and deeper boys team, headed by Dan Mills at No. 1 singles. Also returning are Adam Fisher, who plays behind Mills and Tim Wolf, half of the top doubles team.
Newcomers Anita Cheung and Lily Ubillius fill the first and second singles positions, respectively.
In the City League, Patterson, will ride the strength of its top two singles players on both the boys and girls teams to another run at the league title. The Clippers, co-champions with Poly a year ago, return by far the best boys player in senior Tony McMillon, whose only loss last season came in the first round of the state tournament. He could become the first city player to get a Division I scholarship. After McMillon is senior and four-year player Jeremy Wilson, while Teagan Tandon (No. 1 singles) and Nicole Bauer (No. 2 singles), both seniors and four-year players, anchor the girls squad.
The return of Maurice Chalmus as Lake Clifton coach will keep the Lakers in contention with Patterson. Ayana Thompson is back to defend her city title in girls singles.
Pub Date: 4/01/97