Since the answer was obvious, River Hill tennis players Scott Burtzlaff and Trevor Anderson can't remember which of them first asked the question: Want to form a doubles team?
"We pretty much just knew that if we wanted to win a state title, we'd have to do it playing doubles," Anderson said. "So we pretty much knew we were going to be a doubles team once the [regular] season was over."
Both were strong in singles during the regular season. Anderson, a sophomore, finished 18-0 at No. 2 singles, and Burtzlaff, a junior, was 15-3 at No. 1 singles. It's just that both acknowledge they are not good enough to contend for the state singles title, considering both lag behind the county's best player -- undefeated Centennial freshman Ryan Lissner.
So River Hill Coach Matt Graves figured by combing his top two singles players, the Hawks would have a boys' doubles team that could advance farther in the state tournament, which begins at 9 a.m. tomorrow at the University of Maryland.
The team easily won three matches last weekend at the Wilde Lake Tennis Club to capture the Region III title, a week after cruising to the Howard County Championship.
"They complement each other so well, and a lot of that is because they've been preparing for this since last summer when they would play doubles together on their own," Graves said. "A big part of doubles is being able to work as a team, and that's something they've shown they can do."
As a team, they have not lost more than three games in a set since the postseason began, including a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Oakland Mills's Brian Burkhalter and Faisal Qayumi in the region final.
"What makes them so tough is that they're both very good athletes and can work as a team," Burkhalter said. "They know what the other one is going to do every point."
Anderson and Burtzlaff hope to win River Hill's second state tennis title. Amanda Dolinka and Devin Humphries won the girls' doubles state championship in 2000.
"I told them I have a four-year anniversary that I expect them to keep," Graves said.
The Hawks also have strong mixed doubles teams heading to the state tournament: Matt and Jackie Davidson and Katie Sheliga and Kevin Huber.
Sheliga and Huber posted a match victory over the Davidsons at the county championships, only to see them return the favor last weekend in the region final, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1.
"In a perfect world, we'll play each other for the state title," Matt Davidson said. "But I'm not going to worry about that until it happens because it's never good to think ahead."
"Right now, they've got a win, and we've got a win," Sheliga said. "So it should be a great match if we play them again."
Howard County players dominated opponents from Prince George's County in the regional meet. Each county sent four representatives to compete in each of the five events -- boys' and girls' singles, boys' and girls' doubles and mixed doubles. Howard players posted victories in 21 of 26 matches, and only one player from Prince George's advanced to the final.
Glenelg's Julia Facchina won her first region title with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Eleanor Roosevelt's Whitney Ambush.
"I thought what the people saw was a good show, and it shows there's some very good tennis being played in Howard County right now," Graves said. "I think we'll have a good showing as a county at the state tournament."
The state tennis tournament is different from the state tournament held in other sports because it is not broken into classifications. Each of the eight regions sends two entries to the single-elimination event, and only one state champion is crowned in each event.
"I thought Howard County did a great job [at regionals]," said Glenelg Coach Mary Ellen Doyle. "Hopefully, we'll have a lot of players from this county who win all four of their matches [at states]."