At long last

Sabedra, Raiders claim SMAC tennis tour­na­ment ti­tle

The Enterprise - - Sports - By MICHAEL REID mreid@somd­news.com

Leonard­town first-year head coach Derek Sabedra’s roller­coaster of emo­tions on Wed­nes­day fi­nally, mer­ci­fully ended with ela­tion fol­low­ing the Raiders’ South­ern Mary­land Ath­letic Con­fer­ence tennis tour­na­ment ti­tle at St. Charles High School in Wal­dorf.

The Raiders won all three of its cham­pi­onship matches and edged out Hunt­ing­town 12-11 for the team ti­tle. The cham­pi­onship was Sabedra’s first in 18 years of coach­ing SMAC tennis.

“I’m elated, but the thing is it’s the play­ers,” said Sabedra, whose three match cham­pi­onships were also a ca­reer high. “I’m lov­ing life right now.”

But Leonard­town cer­tainly didn’t cruise to the win as it was tied with the Hur­ri­canes in points with both teams’ mixed dou­bles squads fac­ing off in a win­ner-take-all match.

“It was killing me,” Sabedra said, “but I had to leave. I couldn’t watch.”

Play­ing just their third match to­gether, 10th-seeded Nolan Daugh­erty and Alexia Gor­man earned a 6-3, 6-3 win over Hunt­ing­town’s Brody White and Clau­dia Otchere to clinch the crown.

“We knew it was go­ing to be a tough match, so

we just came out con­fi­dent and re­ally know­ing we could do it and that we had to play our best,” Gor­man said. “I’ve been play­ing against Brody for for­ever, so I know he has an in­cred­i­ble back­hand. We re­ally needed to stay ag­gres­sive at the net, be smart and al­ways be­ing ready.”

“I had a great time and didn’t feel as much pres­sure as I usu­ally do, so I think I played bet­ter,” Daugh­erty said.

Daugh­erty was orig­i­nally go­ing to play with Michelle Hoang, but she suf­fered a knee in­jury April 30 in the Raiders’ reg­u­lar sea­son match against Hunt­ing­town, which was a bat­tle of un­beaten teams won 6-3 by the Hur­ri­canes.

“I called Alexia and she was in on it and I told Nolan I was putting Alexia in there and he said, ‘Yeah,’” Sabedra said. “They hit it off and now they’re both cham­pi­ons.”

Leonard­town’s top-seed- ed Belén Sanchez, who moved to Mary­land last fall from Spain, added a 6-3, 6-3 girls sin­gles win over Katie White of Hunt­ing­town.

“I was afraid of this match be­cause I lost to her [dur­ing the sea­son] and she was my only loss, so it was tough but I had con­fi­dence to­day,” Sanchez said of White, the third seed. “I didn’t have it when I played her [pre­vi­ously], but I just wanted it so much and so many play­ers on the team gave a lot of con­fi­dence to me. I knew I could do it.”

Sabedra ex­pe­ri­enced fear — he refused to move an inch and in­structed a by­s­tander not to move as well — dur­ing the boys dou­bles fi­nal when Leonard­town’s Trey Glad­well and Andy Hor lost the first set and trailed 4-3 in the sec­ond, be­fore earn­ing a 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 win.

“We love to scare our­selves and give up games we shouldn’t give up, and they took ad­van­tage of us and played a great first set,” Glad­well said of North­ern’s Cully Col- gan and Reece Rem­ing­ton. “The sec­ond set they broke me, but we got it to­gether and came back. I never count us out.”

Hor added: “I know from play­ing them ear­lier in the sea­son they’re good com­pe­ti­tion and they will hit the ball back as hard as they can ev­ery time. To­day, they did a won­der­ful job and both [teams] had to fight for each point and that we had to pull it to­gether.”

In girls dou­bles, Great Mills’ Sa­man­tha Chan and Erikah Dozier won their third straight cham­pi­onship fol­low­ing a 7-5, 6-2 win over top-seeded Syd­ney Nader and Han­nah Ken­nerly of Hunt­ing­town.

“I’m re­ally ex­cited,” Chan said. “I think that we played our best and Hunt­ing­town was def­i­nitely tough and they played great. In the be­gin­ning I think we were play­ing too com­fort­able in­stead of just hit­ting nor­mal.”

“Our serves started get­ting in,” Dozier said, “and we started play­ing more con­sis­tent.”

STAFF PHOTO BY MICHAEL REID

Leonard­town head coach Derek Sabedra em­braces his mixed dou­bles team of Nolan Daugh­erty, left, and Alexia Gor­man af­ter the duo clinched the SMAC tennis tour­na­ment team ti­tle for the Raiders on Wed­nes­day at St. Charles High School. At left is...

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