10/27/08 From HCC Sports Desk…
HAGERSTOWN, Md.—The Harford women’s tennis team, in its first year competing as an NJCAA Division I program, claimed the NJCAA Region XX Women’s Tennis championship title last weekend at Hagerstown Community College. After finishing in third place at last year’s region tournament, and the Division III champs, the Fighting Owls claimed the overall title this year by outdistancing host Hagerstown by just three points and claimed six of the nine overall titles.
Harford amassed a total of 14 points to the Hawks’ 11, while Cecil added two points to take third place and Montgomery College-Rockville rounded out the four-team tournament with zero points. With the D-I title, the Owls also earn an automatic bid to the NJCAA Division I National Championship from May 2-7, 2009 at the Randolph Tennis Center in Tucson, Ariz., where they will look to improve on their 10th place finish in the Division III tournament in 2008.
Head coach George Budelis, who claimed his fourth Region XX title, and first title as a D-I team, named freshman Courtney Brewer (Street, Md./North Harford) the MVP of the tournament for Harford after she claimed victories as part of the No. 2 doubles team and at No. 3 singles.
Brewer teamed with freshman Agnes Burke (Havre de Grace, Md./Havre de Grace) to win the No. 2 doubles crown, as they defeated Rockville’s Makale Nyabhele and Calvine Tiengwe, 6-2, 6-3 in the first round, and handed Hagerstown’s Carrie Martin and Gina Garbaya a 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 decision in the final.
In the No. 3 singles slot, Brewer handily defeated Cecil’s Rachel Jackson, 6-1, 6-3, setting up a finals matchup against Hagerstown’s Carrie Martin. Martin had been victorious in the three regular season meetings between the two athletes, but this time Brewer came out the victor, beating Martin in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5 to claim the No. 3 singles title.
Brewer’s doubles teammate also fared well in the singles draw as Burke earned a bye into the final and defeated Hagerstown’s Lindsay Hathaway without dropping a game, 6-0, 6-0 to claim the No. 6 singles crown.
The only other Harford competitor to notch two titles on the weekend was freshman Kate Tiburzi (Fallston, Md./Fallston) who teamed with sophomore Julie Strong (Bel Air, Md./C. Milton Wright) to win No. 3 doubles as well as No. 5 singles.
Tiburzi and Strong advanced straight to the final thanks to a bye, where they defeated Hagerstown’s Hathaway and Carly Jones, 6-3, 6-3. Tiburzi also earned a bye into the finals of the singles draw, and handed Jones a 6-1, 6-2 decision to take the No. 5 singles championship.
Freshman Kelsey Strine (Abingdon, Md./Edgewood) was the only other winner for the Owls, as she handed Rockville’s Tiengwe a 6-1, 6-0 decision in the first round and defeated Hagerstown’s Garbaya, 6-4, 6-4 in the finals of the No. 4 singles draw.
Harford’s No. 1 doubles team of freshman Ashley Sherinsky (Fallston, Md./Fallston) and sophomore Katrina Tiedeman (Jarrettsville, Md./North Harford) easily dispatched their first round opponent, Rockville’s Sophia Pikalova and Jennifer Gregory, 6-0, 6-0, but faltered against Hagerstown’s Mia and Tessa Doyle in the finals.
After dropping the first set, 6-3, to Hagerstown, Harford built a 6-4 advantage in the second set tiebreaker, but squandered two set points and dropped four points in a row as Hagerstown earned the 8-6 tiebreak and 7-6 set and match win. The defeat marked the first time that the No. 1 team of Sherinsky and Tiedeman lost to a conference opponent, either during dual match or tournament play. The duo also struggled in individual play, as Sherinsky fell to Hagerstown’s Tessa Doyle, 7-6 (7-4), 6-1 in the first round of No. 1 singles and Tiedeman defeated Cecil’s Rachel Meholic, 6-0, 6-1 in the first round of No. 2 singles, only to fall to Mia Doyle, 2-6, 6-0, 6-2 in the finals.
The 2008-09 Fighting Owls team completed its best season in the history of the school, finishing with an unblemished 10-0 record in addition to claiming the Wilson/ITA Northeast Regional Championship and Region XX Championship titles and will look to make a splash at the extremely competitive NJCAA Division I National Championship in May.