- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
By JAMES A. McCRAY III
Robert Sparks makes sure to know when his tennis championship matches start should he make it to the final match.
During the first stop of the Southern Maryland Tennis Cup Series, the Calvert Spring Fling in April, Sparks advanced to the men’s singles title match, but defaulted after a mix up with times.
But in the second stop of the series, the Breton Bay Open hosted through Memorial Day Weekend and, most recently, in the third and final stop of the series, the St. Mary’s County Tennis Association Open tournament over Labor Day Weekend, Sparks not only was on time but was on his game after winning both championship titles.
Sparks, who won the SMCTA men’s open singles title in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3, faced a familiar foe in the SMCTA title in John Niswander, his same opponent in the Breton Bay final.
“John is a good player,” Sparks said. “It was super hot that day [at Breton Bay], but it was much cooler at the St. Mary’s tournament. I hit a ball that tennis players call flat, which doesn’t have a lot of spin on it and not many people hit that way. So, John had trouble adjusting to that type of ball.”
On winning, the California resident added, “It’s always good to win. I play a lot of tournaments around the Southern Maryland area so I have high expectations for myself.”
John Niswander Jr. defeated Joey Guididas 6-4, 6-4, in the 3.5 men’s singles. Both players are students at Northern High School.
Lusby resident Virginia King was able to take away two SMCTA championships, winning the women’s open round-robin a winner being determined by combined number of games won 31-26 over Sue Scaduto.
Danielle Gorman won the women’s 3.5 round-robin 30-25 over Marissa Romanek.
“It felt great,” King said. “The competition was very good, especially in the singles. The round-robin format was an unusual way to do it, I had never done it, and so it was a lot of tennis for singles.”
King, however, teamed up with Holly Herzog to win the women’s 3.5 doubles championship, 6-2, 6-2, over Wilman Cheung and Shannon Halter.
“She is a great partner,” King said of Herzog. “Every week we play together on Thursday mornings, so we have been playing for a while together.”
Connor McKissick and Jeff Howard were also a double winners in the tournament. McKissick earned wins as part of a men’s 3.5 doubles team with Derek Sabedra and as a member of the mixed 3.5 doubles team with Vicki Weber.
Howard earned his wins in the men’s open doubles with partner David Pugh and in the mixed open doubles with partner Joanne Russell.
Sabedra, SMCTA secretary and St. Mary’s Junior Tennis Director, admits that playing in a tournament is a bit different than organizing and running one.
“It is easier to run a tournament than it is to win a title,” Sabedra admitted. “Running them is a lot easier because my body hurt after playing in that.”
A total of 35 players competed in the SMCTA tournament, compared to over 50 last year.
“We usually have it in July, but we had to deal with 104-degreee temperatures [last year],” Sabedra said of the change. “That was brutal, so it was a consensus amongst people to have it moved.”
Sabedra also added that winners will be announced for series events will be announced but have not as of this edition.