Boys Player of the Year
Joey Atas, freshman, Calvert Hall: Atas dominated the MIAA A Conference, the area's toughest league, with a 9-0 record. Ranked first in the Mid-Atlantic region by the U.S. Tennis Association for players 14 and under, and 20th nationally, Atas used his serve-and-volley game to overpower opponents. Calvert Hall coach Pat Barrows describes him as "a phenomenal player." He defeated senior Amir Zamani of Gilman for the A Conference title. "Joey has a complete game," Zamani said. "He has great hands, and they give him his power. His game has no weakness."
Girls Player of the Year
Beatrice Grasu, freshman, Franklin: One of Franklin's "Killer Bees," Grasu took over Baltimore County girls tennis this year. She went 11-0 en route to the Baltimore County No. 1 singles title. After beating teammate Brooke Rogers for the district title, Grasu advanced to the state tournament, where she lost to Leslie Price of Eleanor Roosevelt for the title. Ranked No. 12 among girls 16 and under in the Mid-Atlantic region by the USTA, Grasu used a strong forehand to keep opponents off their game. Her biggest regular-season win came when she defeated senior Elizabeth Harvey, last year's Player of the Year, 6-0, 6-4, during the regular season. "That was a big step for her," said her coach, Warren White. "It was the first time she was pushed, and she responded. She just seemed to get stronger, and it showed me how good she was."
Coach of the Year
Jim Busick, Gilman: Now in his 18th year at Gilman, Busick guided his team to a 10-0 season and the Maryland Interscholastic Association's A Conference title. The championship was the sixth for the veteran coach, who was also picked The Sun's Coach of the Year in 1998. "He handles us very well," said Gilman senior Amir Zamani. "He's a wealth of knowledge about tennis, but more importantly, he knows when to step in and when not to. He's not lax, but he also doesn't take things too seriously."
Chase Dawson, freshman, Dulaney: Another of the county's talented group of freshmen, Dawson finished 10-0 and defeated Pikesville senior Dana Dolvin in the county tournament to win the No. 1 singles title. He advanced to the state quarterfinals, where he lost to Jamon Clayton of Oxon Hill. "Chase's game is serve-and-volley, and you don't see a lot of kids doing that today," said his coach, Sharon Spangenberg. "He is dedicated to the game and has tremendous potential. It's a pleasure to coach a player like Chase."
Michael Fowler, junior, Poly: The No. 1 singles player at Poly, Fowler lost the city championship to teammate Carson Porter (the No. 2 player), but that didn't take away from a fine regular season in which he went 10-0. The strengths of Fowler's game are his serve and a powerful forehand. Fowler was never extended to a third set during the regular season. A graduate of the city's recreational tennis program, the junior raised his level of play this season, according to his coach, Preston Jackson. "He's very coachable and a leader for us," Jackson said. "When he gets down in a match is when he plays his best tennis."
Justin Rofel, sophomore, Gilman: Rofel completed a 12-0 season to win the MIAA A Conference No. 2 singles title. A versatile, multi-talented player, Rofel could have probably been the No. 1 singles player at most schools in the area. Ranked 15th in the Mid-Atlantic region by the USTA for boys 16 and under, Rofel is noted for his tenacity. "Justin is a competitor, a real fighter" said his coach, Jim Busick. "He has a Jimmy Connors-like backhand, and that's the strength of his game. He finds ways to win when it seems he can't."
Amir Zamani, senior, Gilman: Bound for Stanford next season, Zamani completed a fine senior season with a loss to Atas as the only blemish on his 11-1 record. "Amir is one of the best players I've ever coached," said his coach, Jim Busick. "He's a good all-around tennis player, and his aggressiveness is one of the better parts of his game. He's not afraid to go to the net when he has to." Zamani is ranked 38th in the Mid-Atlantic by the USTA for 18-and-under boys. He is considering trying out as a walk-on for the Stanford tennis team, one of the best in the NCAA.
Elizabeth Harvey, senior, Randallstown: Last year's girls Player of the Year, Harvey chose to skip the county and district tournaments to concentrate on her studies. Nonetheless, she had a stellar regular season, going 11-1 with a loss to Grasu as the only blemish. Undecided where she will play tennis in college, Harvey finished her high school career with only six losses in four years. "Having her on the team is like having a second coach," Rams coach Steve Strzemienski said. "She gave a lot of her time helping other players, and we will miss her leadership."
Veena Rao, sophomore, Towson: Rao, a member of last season's all city/county team, finished the regular season with a 10-0 record. She did not drop a set during the regular season, losing only six games along the way. In the districts, she advanced to the semifinals before a loss to Franklin's Brooke Rogers ended her season. "Her record speaks for itself," said her coach, Jayne Lacy. "She's a consistent baseliner, and she mixes up her shots well. She's been a steady and dependable player for us, and she'll only get better as she matures."
Brooke Rogers, freshman, Franklin: Rogers, Baltimore County's No. 2 singles champion, is one of the best players in the state, but only the second best on her team. The other half of Franklin's "Killer Bees," Rogers went 12-0 in the regular season to win her title. She finished second in the districts, losing her only match in the finals to teammate Grasu. Her season ended with a loss in the state consolation finals to Wicomico's Jessica Rybecki, last year's defending state champion. Rogers' coach, Warren White, says she outworks her opponents. "Brooke has done everything possible to make herself successful," White said. "She plays power tennis, and it amazes me that someone her size can get that much power into her strokes."
Portia Wood, sophomore, Western: An all city/county performer last season, Wood won the City No. 1 girls title by avenging her only loss of the regular season, to Poly's Kim Harrison, in the city final. She finished 11-1 and advanced to the districts, where a loss to North County's Mari Butera ended her season. "She has really improved her game this year," Western coach Victoria Knuckles said. "Portia doesn't see the type of competition she needs to, so it's my job next year to find her some better matches so she can continue to improve."
The Baltimore Sun 2000 All-Baltimore City/Couty tennis team was selected by Mike Frainie after consultation with The Sun staff and area coaches.