Barely 30 minutes had passed in their first-round match at the Maryland tennis tournament on Friday when Eleanor Roosevelt's boys' doubles team of Theron Gray and Alex Fischer had already ventured into unfamiliar territory.
The Region III and Prince George's County champions, who had not dropped a set all season, lost the first five games to Oakland Mills' Brian Burkhalter and Faisal Qayumi en route to a 6-3, 6-3 defeat.
The tournament further reinforced the tennis divide between Prince George's County and other counties such as Montgomery and Howard. The nine singles and doubles representatives from Prince George's did not win a match during the event.
"You can't spot people five games here. They're too good," Roosevelt Coach Brendan O'Connell said. "There's no margin for error because all the players are too good. I was saying to Theron, we're not used to being in matches like this. They're not used to being behind."
Gray and Fischer, along with teammate Whitney Ambush, were considered among the most promising county representatives heading into the tournament. Ambush, a three-time county champion, drew defending state champion Maggie MacKeever of Churchill in the first round. MacKeever won the match, and would go on to win her second straight title.
O'Connell said he will continue to try to schedule matches against teams outside the county to better prepare his team for the state tournament. For now though, he finds some solace in a season during which the Raiders cruised to county and region titles.
"The regional championship was even more than we expected," O'Connell said. "And I was hoping we could come here and win a couple of matches. That's the next step."