Last spring, Wilson unseated Ballou as the Interhigh tennis champion by winning both the boys and girls doubles titles as well as the girls singles honors in the finals at Rock Creek. This year, Ballou will try to reverse the situation, as the two schools again appear to be the league favorites.
Wilson returns much of the cast that helped it win the title last June. The stars of that team were the doubles tandem of Robert O'Hara and Mitchell Zamoff, who had an unexpectedly easy time defeating Coolidge's Quincy Vodi and Mike Pannell. They swept the first set without giving up a game enroute to a 6-0, 6-3 victory.
''We knew that Vodi had a big serve and Pannell is a good player,'' said O'Hara, who, like Zamoff, is a senior. ''But we went out and played our game.''
Senior Merrit Johnson will return to assume the No. 1 singles position he occupied last year after moving up from the No. 4 spot as a sophomore.
Juniors Nils Olsen (No. 2) and Robert Milius (No. 4) were both undefeated in singles last year and would like to repeat those performances.
On the girls' courts, Wilson Coach Isom Upkins lost two-time singles champion Robin Mierzwa to graduation, but returns the champion doubles team of seniors Elizabeth Lake and Isolde Popp. Lake will probably be the No. 1 singles player, challenged by Popp and sophomore Catherine MacNamee.
The doubles duo of Lake and Popp lost its first match in last year's championships, 7-5, but swept the next two sets from H.D. Woodson's Joanne Wynn and Tracy Banks, 6-2, 6-2.
At Ballou, Coach Roosevelt Hairston thinks he has enough talent to regain both titles from Wilson.
''We will have a strong team this year in an effort to challenge Wilson,'' he said. ''Our singles players could be very strong if they are willing to work hard and dedicate themselves.''
Junior Anthony Carroll returns to claim his No. 1 singles position. Behind him are promising sophomores Steve Bynum, Preston Edwards and Myron Whitmore.
''Bynum is a very strong player who has a lot of potential,'' says Hairston. ''He lacks the experience of facing continual pressure week after week, but, after his senior year, he will definitely be highly sought after.''
At one time, Whitmore was ranked as high as No. 6 in the area for his age group, but lost interest. He said he feels the motivation again and hopes to quickly find his skills and winning attitude.
With seniors Tanya Kinlow and Kathy Walker participating, the Knights could be solid in the girls singles, but both are honor students and have not decided how much time they will spend on the courts because of other commitments.
''The strength of our girls team will depend on if Kathy and Tanya are able to participate,'' says Hairston. ''Kathy should be a lot stronger this year after coming off a full season of girls basketball.''
At Coolidge, Coach Rob Robinson has been unable to find a No. 1 boys singles player the quality of graduated Steve Lawrence, who made it to the Interhigh finals last year.
Junior Jean Pierre Roberts appears to have the edge, but he will be challenged by senior Pannell and juniors Vodi and Eric Smith. Pannell and Vodi will again handle the No. 1 doubles.
Coolidge will have more difficulty being competitive in the girls matches.
Banneker must fill a huge void on its boys singles team left by the graduation of Michael Currie, the undefeated Interhigh champion of the past two seasons.
Competing for the No. 1 singles position will be juniors Timothy Adams and Crystal Swann.
The top performer for Coach Jim Nathanson's girls at the Duke Ellington School will be junior Carolyn Seckinger, who lost in the singles championship to Wilson's Mierzwa.
Seckinger believes her match with Mierzwa was a learning experience upon which she hopes to capitalize this spring.
Mierzwa win the first set easily but held off Seckinger's rally in the second set for the win. ''She was just a better player than I am,'' said Seckinger, who is a dance major at Ellington. ''I was very pleased with the way I played against her.''
Nathanson's boys team will be led by seniors Garry Botts and Eric Russ.
Dunbar didn't field a tennis team last year, so Coach John Nunn will be trying to create some interest at the Northwest school while searching for prospective players.