Before a recent match with conference rival Bullis, Episcopal Tennis Coach Ben Johns looked away from the court where each school's No. 1 players were in action.
Johns had already conceded the singles match between Episcopal's Van Merchant and Bullis senior Danny Goldie. "We haven't got anyone who can handle him," Johns said of Goldie.
For three years no one in the metropolitan area has been able to handle Goldie, who last lost a high school match as a freshman while attending McLean. There have been so many, Goldie and school officials say they have no idea how long the streak is.
Under the tutelage of area pro Jack Schore, a resident pro at the Regency Racquet Club in McLean and Goldie's personal coach since age 14, and Bullis Tennis Coach Jay Phillips, Goldie has become the No. 1 18 and under player in the Mid-Atlantic Tennis Association (MATA).
Goldie started playing when he was 10. "My mother used to play a lot and she would ask me to play," he said. "I guess that's when I realized I liked the game."
"The guy is incredible," said teammate Steve Shannon, a doubles player who spends a lot of time watching Goldie effortlessly put away opponents. "Tennis is his life. Last year after the IAC (Interstate Athletic Conference) championships we were all hanging around talking and there's Danny picking up his equipment to go practice for another three hours."
Clemson Tennis Coach Chuck Kriese, who coached Goldie at the Junior Davis Cup tryouts in Los Angeles last summer, said Goldie was better than anyone in his age bracket in ground stroke technique.
The diligent training has thrust Goldie into national prominence. In 1981 he was ranked 28th nationally in 18-and-under and probably will be in the top 10 this year. A formidable doubles player, Goldie teamed with Californian John Canter to win the Canadian International Juniors tournament last September.
"Danny knows his game very well," said Schore. "He's a strategy player and has excellent technique. He's probably the best area prospect since Harold Solomon."
Despite his accomplishments, Goldie sees room for improvement. "I have to become more involved in my serve-and-volley game, get more aggressive and charge the net."
Schore would like Goldie to be more aggressive. "I know he's aware of this and he's been incorporating it more in recent matches. But he's so good at ground strokes, he likes to sit back and hammer away."
"No question about it. Danny is the best player I've ever coached or seen for his age," Phillips said. "But I can't take any credit for his success. I see myself as someone who has this product who is well-grounded in fundamentals, already through the formative stage. My job is to work with the head and the heart."
Before Goldie crossed over to Bullis in his junior year (for academic purposes, he's an honor student), the Bulldogs had a floundering program.
Aside from a 14-5 season in 1980, Phillips' teams never won more than three matches. But this season, Phillips, in his sixth and final year at Bullis, won his first IAC championship with an 11-0-1 record.
Schore, who was named director of racket sports at Bullis in September, assisted in the rebuilding program by working with both the varsity and junior varsity teams.
And if Goldie's heroics weren't enough, Brian Hanfling, Randy Taylor, and Lee Bell were just as imposing. Of the three players, seeded two, three and four, respectively, only Taylor lost a single match all season.
Hanfling, who is perhaps Goldie's toughest competition, along with Taylor and Bell will be going to the National Interscholastic Team Championships at Duke beginning June 13.
Bullis finished sixth in the nation last year when Goldie, the top-seeded player, was sidelined with a back injury in the semifinals.
In the fall Goldie will join another tennis power when he enrolls at Stanford. The Cardinals have won six of the last nine NCAA titles.
Stanford Coach Dick Gould said he was impressed when he saw Goldie play in the National Hard Court tournament in California last summer. Gould, who coached John McEnroe, Roscoe Tanner and Tim Mayotte (last year's NCAA singles champion), said he "recruited Goldie aggressively."
"I am very delighted to have Danny coming here next fall," Gould said. "I was impressed with the way he played. He is a very quiet yet determined athlete. It is also evident he is well coached."
"Danny likes to set goals for himself," said Schore. "He wants to be in the top 50 professionally and I believe he can do it."
There are undoubtedly plenty of opponents who share that opinion.