Landon, after dominating tennis in the Interstate Athletic Conference, recently finished third in the National Invitational tournament at Duke.

The University School of Cleveland finished first and Bradenton (Fla.) Academy was second.

Landon's No. 1 seed, Spiro Fotopoulos placed fifth in the singles competition and junior Chris Thompson finished second in the No. 2 singles.

That, however, did not tarnish an excellent season for the Bears. Landon, for the second straight year, won the IAC championship with a 14-1 overall record and were 6-0 in league play. THe Bears wrapped up the season by defeating league rivals Bullis, 6-1, and Episcopal, 7-0. In the Episcopal match, Fotopoulos defeated Nelson Tyrone, 6-2, 6-2, and Thompson, defeated Bart Potter, 6-2, 6-0.

"I was surprised by the win because we won everything in straight sets," said Landon Coach Bill Zaiser.

Landon is fortunate to have a young and extremely talented team. The Bears didn't lose any top players to graduation this year and will lose only Fotopoulos next year.

Landon has gained confidence with experience. The Bears won three "very important" matches, according to Zaiser.

Early in the season, against Virginia power Langley, Fotopolous faced then-undefeated Philip Shipp, who won the Northern Region singles. Fotopolous, who was ranked sixth last year in the Mid-Atlantic Tennis Association's 18-and-under division, came back from a 1-4 first-set deficit to win, 6-4, 7-5.

Thompson, in the Landon-Langley match, defeated Chad Ramsey, 6-3, 6-2, as Landon won, 8-1. Ramsey was ranked No. 21 nationally in the 14-and-under division last year.

Whitman of Montgomery County provided "one of the most exciting matches of the season" as the Bears won, 6-1. Thompson, in a four-hour marathon, handed Craig Shelbourne his first loss of the year, 3-6, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (8-6).

"I had lost twice before to him and knew it would be tough, so I went out there really loose," said Thompson, who was ranked fifth last year in the MATA 16 and under. "I was playing well and hitting my ground strokes well, which is my game. It seemed he got tired in the second set after winning the first set. And after I won the second set, I had the momentum going with me."

"Those two wins Langley and Whitman were very big for us," said Zaiser. "Langley is certainly one of the best schools in Northern Virginia and Walt Whitman is the best of the public schools in Montgomery County. Along with beating Episcopal, I'd say we feel pretty good about the season."

Depth is a key element in Zaiser's good feeling.

Fotopoulos was beaten only once this year in league play, a three-set loss to Georgetown Prep's Brian Lafferman, as was Thompson. Playing at No. 3, sophomore Lee Van Blerkom also was undefeated in the IAC, and was 11-1 overall. Van Blerkom has, according to Zaiser, developed an excellent serve. Freshman Andy Weiss, in the No. 4 spot, is unbeaten in the league and 12-0 overall.

"Weiss could be playing at the top of the lineup for most of the teams in our league," said Zaiser. "Even though he's only a freshman, he plays with the talent and experience of an older player."

Although Landon began the season with much promise after winning last year's IAC championship, Zaiser, because of a number of injuries, wasn't sure how the Bears would respond.

"I thought we would be very good. I didn't know how good, because when we started the season we did have quite a few injuries and when you have injuries early on, sometimes they become nagging problems and they can keep you from reaching your potential," said Zaiser. "Luckily for us, they haven't."