Shin­ing on the courts

Lackey’s Stith places sec­ond at SMAC tour­na­ment; Charg­ers tie for fifth

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By AJ MA­SON aj­ma­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @aj­ma­son301

Since last sea­son the Hunt­ing­town ten­nis squad has been a team to reck­oned with in the South­ern Mary­land Ath­letic Con­fer­ence.

This spring it has con­tin­ued to live up to that billing.

Af­ter rolling to an un­de­feated reg­u­lar sea­son ti­tle yet again, the Hur­ri­canes clinched their sec­ond straight SMAC ten­nis tour­na­ment ti­tle on Satur­day at North Point High School in Wal­dorf.

Hunt­ing­town fin­ished with a tour­na­ment-best 16 points and had three SMAC cham­pi­ons in boys sin­gles, boys dou­bles and mixed dou­bles in the 23rd an­nual gath­er­ing.

Great Mills fin­ished run­ner-up with 12 points and also won the team sports­man­ship award. Leonard­town fin­ished third with seven points. North­ern was fourth with five points and Calvert and Lackey tied for fifth with three.

The top six fin­ish­ers in the tour­na­ment au­to­mat­i­cally qual­i­fied for the Re­gion IV tour­na­ment, which kicks off with Day 1 ac­tion Thurs­day at North Point and Day 2 Satur­day at An­napo­lis High School. Ac­tion is sched­uled to be­gin at 10 a.m. both days.

The SMAC tour­na­ment opened up May 10 with the round of 32 and was sched­uled to con­tinue the next day, but it was post­poned due to rain. Ac­tion picked up on May 12 with the round of 16 and con­tin­ued through Fri­day with the quar­ter­fi­nal round. The semi­fi­nals and the most of the cham­pi­onship matches oc­curred Satur­day with one, girls dou­bles, fin­ish­ing Mon­day.

“That is huge to win the SMAC tour­na­ment again. It is a re­ally big ac­com­plish­ment for our team,” said Hunt­ing­town head coach Rob Martin, while his team hoisted the SMAC tro­phy. “It speaks vol­umes of our char­ac­ter and the play­ers re­turn­ing from last year. We had a lot of suc­cess last year and this year’s team wanted to do it again.”

For the fourth straight year, Hunt­ing­town had a boys sin­gles cham­pion as ju­nior un­beaten Kai Tougas re­peated as SMAC cham­pion with a hard­fought vic­tory over Lackey se­nior Ron Stith in three sets, 6-1, 5-7, 6-0.

The an­tic­i­pated sin­gles fi­nal was re­match from the reg­u­lar sea­son where Tougas out­lasted Stith, 7-5, 6-3 in that con­test. Tougas de­feated Adrian Paras of St. Charles in the semi­fi­nals, 6-0, 6-4, to get that re­match.

“The pres­sure was high be­cause ev­ery­one was ex­pect­ing me to win it again,” said Tougas, whose younger brother Taiyo lost to Stith in the quar­ter­fi­nals in three sets. “I work out about four times a week, so that has helped me out a lot.”

Stith, who took third in the SMAC last sea­son, took an­other step in fin­ish­ing run­ner-up, but just missed his goal of win­ning the ti­tle in his fi­nal sea­son.

“I took an­other step, but I gave up too easy,” said Stith, who beat La Plata’s Joseph Na in the semi­fi­nals, 6-0, 6-0. “I was cramp­ing in the sec­ond set, but I think men­tally I wasn’t there. But I still have re­gion­als.”

Hunt­ing­town’s Syd­ney Bader and Sam Bethge claimed the mixed dou­bles ti­tle af­ter de­feat­ing Kai Green and Sam Da­malouji of Calvert in the fi­nals, 6-4, 6-2.

The Hur­ri­canes tan­dem — both first-year ten­nis play­ers — up­set the Great Mills duo of Lau­ren Heibel and Jake We­ber, the top seed, in the semi­fi­nals on Satur­day morn­ing, 2-6, 6-3, 7-5. The Great Mills pair was un­de­feated en­ter­ing the semi­fi­nals.

“We work well to­gether, have fun and some in­side jokes to keep us go­ing,” Bader said.

Bethge noted that he and Bader im­proved since be­gin­ning of the sea­son.

“We just been tak­ing it one game at a time, we are start­ing to peak at the right time,” Bethge said. “We both never picked up a racket be­fore this sea­son.”

Martin added, “They are play­ing well right now. They ac­tu­ally lost to both Calvert and Great Mills dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son. They have come a long away and they used those losses as mo­ti­va­tion for the tour­na­ment.”

Will Bod­nar and Kristo­pher Collins brought home the boys dou­bles ti­tle for Hunt­ing­town with a vic­tory in straight sets over Great Mills’ Matthew Daugh­erty/ Neil Pa­tel, 6-1, 6-2.

In girls sin­gles, North­ern’s Rachel Clark, the sev­enth seed, won the SMAC ti­tle with a 6-2, 6-2 win over topseed Sa­man­tha Sch­walbe of Leonard­town in the fi­nals, aveng­ing a reg­u­lar sea­son loss. Clark de­feated Hunt­ing­town’s Bai­ley White in straight sets in the semi­fi­nals, 6-2, 6-2.

The Pa­tri­ots ju­nior had prob­a­bly her big­gest win of the tour­na­ment against sec­ond-seeded Azuri Hughes of Lackey, com­ing in straight sets in the quar­ter­fi­nals.

“Beat­ing Azuri was real big for me be­cause she go­ing to col­lege to play,” said Clark re­fer­ring to Hughes, who beat her in the reg­u­lar sea­son.

The girls dou­bles cham­pi­onship was played on Mon­day and was a Great Mills dou­bles clash as sopho­mores Sa­man­tha Chan and Erikah Dozier de­feated Re­bekah Torge­son and Caitlin McDaniel, 6-0, 6-1.

Chan and Dozier knocked off top-seeded Han­nah Ken­nerly and Al­li­son Er­soy of Hunt­ing­town in the semi­fi­nals on Satur­day, 6-4, 6-2.

“We fin­ished sec­ond in the SMAC tour­na­ment last year, so it feels good to get back to the fi­nal to face our own team,” said Chan af­ter Satur­day’s semi­fi­nals.

“We are ready we’ve been work­ing hard and play­ing with each other since last year,” Dozier said.

STAFF PHOTO BY AJ MA­SON

Lackey se­nior Ron Stith fin­ished run­ner-up in the SMAC ten­nis tour­na­ment on Satur­day, fall­ing to Hunt­ing­town’s Kai Tougas in three sets.

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