- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Huntingtown tennis emerged victorious in a battle of county rivals Friday when it defeated visiting Calvert, 8-1.
The Hurricanes (8-2, 7-2 SMAC) won the first eight matches of the afternoon before Calvert spoiled the shutout by taking the mixed doubles match.
“It’s really good to have eight courts because you know where you stand as a team really quick,” Huntingtown head coach Rob Martin said. “The last match didn’t have too much pressure because it had already been decided. Having five matches already in the bag before the last match starts is always a good thing.”
The loss snapped a four-match win streak for the Cavaliers (7-4, 7-4).
“Huntingtown’s a very tough team, and they play very hard and it’s very difficult to beat them,” Calvert head coach Laurie Gurwell-Wall said. “And I’m pretty happy with how the kids played.”
Huntingtown’s boys singles did not allow a point as both Tyler Collins (No. 1) and Robert Hand (No. 2) cruised to wins.
“Tyler’s a good opponent,” Calvert’s Zach Kirkwood said of his defeat at No. 1. “I knew I had to finish the points, and I gave up too many points and he took advantage of everything. There were a lot of unforced errors, but he also earned most of the points he got.”
Huntingtown’s girls also swept its singles matches. Marissa Romanek (No. 1) earned a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 win over Cara Mathers, and Amanda Chapman (No. 2) prevailed 6-2, 6-2 over Alison Frere.
“The first set went really well, and the second one, she definitely started being really consistent, so I knew I had to work harder,” Romanek said. “I think it’s very important [to win the first set] because if you don’t, it could be a three-set match and no one really wants to do that. I think in the third set, I got it in my head that it was a fresh slate, so I started working harder on being consistent and getting shots in. She’s got a lot of consistency and she really did get all of my shots back, so it was really about being consistent with her.”
Huntingtown assistant coach Andrew Nottage — a former star at Huntingtown — monitored Romanek’s match closely.
“It was such a close match because both of them were very consistent and comfortable on the baseline, so we had to get [Romanek] to move [Mathers] more forward and backwards to get a little more tired because most people are more comfortable moving side to side. And we wanted her to pull the trigger when she was most comfortable and the ball was in her strike zone, and she took advantage of it. She did a good job; she hung in there.”
Huntingtown’s boys and girls doubles also added straight-sets wins thanks to Brendan White and Vincent Chandlee (No. 1 boys), Jeff Davis and Sage Muffley (No. 2), Jennifer Lavoie and Alysia Stroh (No. 1 girls), and Catherine Hetmansky and Reiko Gallo (No. 2).
“I think we started off pretty well, but the other team definitely had the stronger shots, but I think we definitely could handled it better,” said Calvert’s Mat Frick of his and partner Kenny Parker’s 6-3, 6-1 loss at No. 2 boys doubles. Frick was hobbled when he pulled a muscle in the first set. “That got me away from my personal play, but as a team, I think we still could have done better. Overall, I think they had more skill, but I think we could have responded better.”
“Matt and I played pretty well together, but once he got injured, you could tell because he’s really good at getting shots back in, and once he got hurt, he couldn’t move as well,” Parker said.
Calvert’s lone win came at mixed doubles when Tyler Micheal and Mignon Kim earned a 7-6 (7-4), 7-5 win to remain undefeated on the season.
“I think that they had excellent communication between partners and they had the confidence of being undefeated,” Gurwell-Wall said, “and that helped them stay focused.”
Nicole Ponkka said she and partner Brian Stroh might have been a bit intimidated by the Calvert duo’s unblemished record.
“We went in knowing they were undefeated, so that might have messed with our minds a little bit,” Ponkka said. “I still think we played pretty good. We played our best, [but] we could also use some more strategy like placing the ball.”
The match also had a peculiar subplot; it matched two former Northern head coach’s sons against each other. Tyler Micheal’s father, Kevin, coached the Patriots in the 1980s, and Stroh’s father, Eric, coached Northern from 2000 to 2006.
“They were a really well-rounded team,” Brian Stroh said of the Calvert tandem. “We just went out there and played our hearts out and played our best and did what we can. It’s hard to beat a team that’s good everywhere.”
The Hurricanes have won their last three games and outscored their opponents 25-1 over that span.
“They’re really analyzing the games and the points, and they’re getting into match-like scenarios in practice and getting more experience and having different players in doubles and singles, so they see different styles of play,” Martin said. “Some guys are servers and volleyers, some guys hit big shots, so it gives everyone a chance to play each other and also prepares them for future matches.”
Calvert has seven wins this season, its best win total since taking 12 matches in 2008.
“We have nine seniors playing for us this year, so we’ve been working with them for three years and they’ve learned a lot about tennis in that time, and now they’re bearing the fruit of that hard labor,” Gurwell-Wall said. “And it’s very exciting; it’s rewarding.”
“We’ve never done this well,” Kirkwood said. “Everyone’s just stepped up a lot. [And] Laurie’s an amazing coach, the best coach I ever had.”