FROSTBURG, MD., JULY 20 -- On a day that started with the withdrawals of the No. 1 men's and women's tennis seeds and ended with a hailstorm, a Potomac retiree and a University of Maryland sophomore played their own matches -- just for the fun of it -- during Day 1 of the Maryland Sports Festival.
Mark Lichtenstein, 33, a 1987 Maryland State Games tennis champion, and his wife Barbara, 31, were top seeds in the open competition. The Gaithersburg couple, however, pulled out at the last minute because of "a family emergency," a festival official said.
Players seeded second, third and fourth in the men's open also defaulted. Yelin Htwar, Clay Richmond and Keith Puryear, all coaches at Towson State, had a previous engagement at a tennis camp, and festival officials were unable to change the times of their matches.
Despite the seeded players' absence, there were plenty of goings-on at the Frostburg State University courts and at the tennis venue in La Vale, eight miles east.
Robert Dallen, 65, a 1946 Naval Academy graduate and a retiree after a long career with IBM, lost his match against Baltimore's Kile Williams, 64. Afterward, he did not seem terribly upset.
"I guess I just didn't score enough points," he said after his 6-1, 6-2 loss in men's 60s competition. He won the first game, then "went downhill from there."
He threatened briefly in the second set, cutting the score to 3-2. "I felt I had to change tactics," he said of his more aggressive, net-charging style in the second set.
But Williams, himself recently retired from the Social Security Administration, advanced to Round 2; he will play Saturday against another Potomac resident, Michael Rachlin, 66.
Dallen, who still plays at Country Glen and Bethesda country clubs and competing in his third Festival, called this year's events "much better organized than the first one I played" in College Park.
Ten minutes after his match, another pair walked off the Frostburg courts, after a boys' 18s matchup. Evan Salu, a sophomore at Maryland, defeated Valley Lee's Shawn Slade, 6-0, 6-2.
"It really wasn't much competition," Salu, a Rockville High graduate, said. "I just got out of my car after a three-hour drive, so I was tired. I was just trying to keep the ball in play."
Despite having played No. 1 singles at Rockville, Salu does not compete in varsity tennis at College Park, where he is a business major.
"I got a really good academic scholarship," he said. "I've been doing all academic work and I wanted to get back to tennis, so I came here."
He has played in several tournaments in Maryland this summer, including Ocean City, where he finished second, and Salisbury. He will play Frostburg teenager Tom Wolfe Saturday morning.
Russell Morningstar, 13, defeated Tim Neumark of Frostburg, 7-5, 6-2; and sister Marsha Morningstar, 16, beat Colleen Akehurst (Bel Air), 6-2, 6-1.
The younger Morningstar displayed needed patience midway through the match, when Neumark made many errors. "At the beginning, I was pushing too much. I was playing mad," he said.