From the HCC sports desk:
BEL AIR, Md.—The Harford men’s tennis team avenged a 9-0 regular-season beating as it edged a truncated Montgomery College-Rockville squad, 5-4, to claim the Division III Region XX Championship title on Friday at Harford Tennis Courts.
The Fighting Owls (5-4) and the Knights are the only two Division III teams in the region, causing the championship to be decided by a standard dual match, rather than a multi-team tournament format.
Harford held a 2-0 advantage over the Knights from the start, as Rockville was short a few players and could not fill the field for the No. 3 doubles or No. 6 singles matches, resulting in default wins for the team of freshman Steve Heagy (Fallston, Md./Fallston) and sophomore Brian McKeldin (Bel Air, Md./C. Milton Wright) and for freshman Ben Wade (Joppatowne, Md./Joppatowne).
Freshman Josh Meier (Belcamp, Md./Home School) was the only double-winner for the Owls as he teamed with freshman Josh Hicks (Fallston, Md./Home School) to defeat Alejandro Valencia and Laith Layous, 8-2 at No. 1 singles and also dispatched Neal Shenk, 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 in the No. 2 singles slot to pick up two key points for Harford.
Freshman Chris Blackwell (Bel Air, Md./Bel Air/RPI) was the only other winner for Harford as he pulled out a grueling, three-set victory over Henry Gjoni. Blackwell took care of his opponent, 6-2 in the first set but saw the second set drawn out to a 13-11 tiebreaker, which Gjoni won to take the 7-6 second set win. Blackwell managed to edge his counterpart, 6-4 in the third set, however to take the match win.
Blackwell also teamed with sophomore Josh Hays (Belcamp, Md./Harford Tech) as they fell at No. 2 doubles, 8-2, to Shenk and Kevin Hsu, while Valencia downed Hicks, 6-2, 6-0 at No. 1 singles, Layous felled Hays, 6-2, 6-2 in the No. 3 spot and Hsu defeated Heagy, 6-0, 6-1 at No. 5 singles.
By virtue of claiming the Region XX championship, the Fighting Owls receive an automatic bid for the Division III NJCAA National Tennis Championship from May 11-15 at Collin College in Plano, Texas.