Tennis notebook

Wootton's boys' tennis team dominates Montgomery County

"I used to be afraid to go to the net," said Eleanor Roosevelt's Katelyn Stokes, who has changed her game to try and win a third state title. (Toni L. Sandys/the Washington Post)
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By Jason Mackey
Wednesday, May 5, 2010

With a pair of highly ranked juniors in Anton Kovrigin and Eiichiro Okuyama, as well as a pair of up-and-coming freshmen who round out the final two singles slots, the Wootton boys' tennis team has had little trouble disposing of Montgomery County rivals Whitman and Churchill.

And everyone else the Patriots have played.

In fact, Wootton (11-0) has won every one of its matches by a 7-0 score and has ceded only one set all season.

"These guys are just ridiculous," said Wootton Coach Nia Cresham. "They're just so good. It's amazing how deep we are."

Cresham has little reason to be modest: Kovrigin is the second-ranked player in the USTA Mid-Atlantic region 18s; Okuyama is 27th.

Besides the team's two big guns, freshmen Alex Hahn and Mateo Cevallos have emerged to give Wootton quality contributors at all four singles slots, players that some coaches believe would line up at the top two slots almost anywhere in the area.

"Wootton has definitely become the dominant team," Whitman Coach Jasen Gohn said.

Normally one of the standard-bearers for Montgomery County tennis, along with reigning champion Churchill, Whitman suffered a 7-0 loss to Wootton earlier this spring, snapping the Vikings' 42-match winning streak that dated back to 2006.

Stokes seeks third title

When Eleanor Roosevelt senior Katelyn Stokes was a freshman in 2007, she burst onto the high school tennis scene by making a surprise postseason run that culminated in a Maryland 4A state championship.

The following year, however, attention started to swirl around the powerful sophomore, and Stokes, no longer the new kid in class, lost to Linganore's Katie Schafer in the state final that season.

Her junior campaign saw a return to dominance, as the Howard recruit wasn't taken to a third set and knocked off Schafer to win a second state title, providing her with the chance this year to become only the fourth player in state history to take top honors three times.

In hopes of doing so, Stokes wanted to make one last tweak to her game and improve how she plays around the net -- not only getting there but hopefully setting herself up with a returnable ball that enables her to end the rally as soon as possible.

"When I was younger, I used to be afraid to go to the net," said Stokes, a three-time All-Met who's 9-0 this spring and is ranked ninth in the Mid-Atlantic region 18s. "Now I'm good when I go [to the net]. It's more just a matter of when I go."

Potomac School's depth

Despite the graduation of first-team All-Met Kareem Farah from last year's MAC regular season and tournament title-winning squad, the Potomac School boys continue to thrive.

Juniors Zach Hublitz and Ned Mandel have each bumped up a slot, with Hublitz taking over for Farah as the team's No. 1 singles player and unquestioned leader.

That, coupled with the strong play of Chris Dale and Austin Chiles at the No. 3 and 4 singles slots, has Potomac School, which has a record of 211-62 since 1992 while winning 12 conference championships during that span, eyeing a return trip to the VISAA state final, where it lost to state power Collegiate School last spring.

"Last year when we played Collegiate, they were so much deeper than us," said Coach Marty Hublitz, whose team improved to 16-2 with a 7-0 win over Georgetown Day School on Tuesday, a mark that includes a 5-2 win over Collegiate on April 5. "Not only have we filled Kareem's shoes, but we're deeper than we've ever been."

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