- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The Great Mills Hornets took a homegrown St. Mary’s kid, paired him with a kid from Finland and let the two go to work together in the 2012 tennis postseason.
Senior Billy Clarke of St. Mary’s County and boys doubles partner Juha Ellonen, at Great Mills his senior year from Finland, teamed up after the tennis regular season for a postseason run of historic proportion.
Clarke and Ellonen placed second overall in the boys doubles division at the state tennis tournament.
The duo had already won a Southern Maryland Athletic Conference boys doubles championship and Region IV championship before heading to the University of Maryland at College Park campus in late May as the third-seeded boys doubles team, but the two were not yet satisfied.
Defeating a Towson High School team from Baltimore County and a team from Tuscarora High School in Frederick County during day one of competition, it was day two, the following day, in which they made their run.
In the semifinals, Clarke and Ellonen defeated Gabriel Fan and Titas Bera of Wootton, from Montgomery County, in three sets, 6-1, 3-6, 6-2, after being tied at a set apiece.
The two then fell to the eventual champions Sean Ngo and Aries Wong of Walt Whitman in Montgomery County in straight sets, 6-4, 6-1, but it was the second place that had the duo in smiles afterward.
"We got beat by two nationally-ranked players,” Clarke said in May. “They were better today, but I think that we gave them a good fight, especially in the first set. ... Finishing in the state championship match and for it to be the only loss of the season is not too bad."
Ellonen added of the season, “It's really, really cool to be here and one of the highlights of my year.”
Both graduated as Ellonen has returned to Finland and Clarke is currently enrolled at the University of Alabama.
JAMES A. McCRAY III