Girls’ Player of the Year: Whitney Ambush
This season was all about improving for the Eleanor Roosevelt junior, and Ambush accomplished her task. Her performance allowed her to cruise to another Star/Gazette Girls’ Tennis Player of the Year selection. The goals Ambush set for herself and the effort to stay interested in her matches seemingly provided the biggest challenges for Ambush this year. Ambush had no problem disposing of every county competitor she faced this season. She even said at one point, she had to make a serious effort to get up for her matches. Once on the court, however, Ambush became so interested that minor imperfections such as missed shots or points became a really big deal. The regular season was a rite of passage, as the postseason was her main area of focus. After a disappointing Region III outing in 2003, Ambush’s primary objective was to advance to the state tournament. She accomplished that goal with a second-place finish at the Region III tournament. Her bid for a state championship fell short in an opening-round loss, but she has another season remaining to try.
Boys’ Player of the Year: Aaron Carr
When it came to stepping up in the crunch, few, if any, county boys could match up with Carr, a DeMatha junior and the Star/Gazette Boys’ Tennis Player of the Year. Although his bid for two consecutive Washington Catholic Athletic Conference boys’ singles titles fell short, Carr has certainly left first-year coach Brian Brown with plenty to look forward to next year.
After a one-year lull in 2001 after five consecutive team titles by DeMatha, it was Carr who helped bring the program back to prominence. Carr proved the type of competitor he is in the WCAC singles’ championship on May 7. Trailing 5-0 to Good Counsel’s Brett Weikart, Carr cut the lead to 5-3 before eventually losing the match, 10-5.
Coach of the Year
Ronald Stith, Central — This past season, Stith joined an elite fraternity that includes several county tennis instructors. During spring break, Stith traveled to Easton for a weekend of learning April 9-10. When the weekend was over, he was a certified tennis instructor with the Professional Tennis Registry. Stith took it upon himself to not only improve his players’ knowledge of the game, but also his own. The results were evident. Central finished an impressive regular season at 8-1 after going 3-7 last year. One of the most improved players in the county was Central boys’ No. 2 James Woods. He was one of the few boys to compete on the team, as the Falcons had to forfeit all boys’ doubles competitions as well as the top boys’ singles position.
Alec Enkiri, So., Eleanor Roosevelt — A coaching change at the Greenbelt school did not change the Raiders’ winning ways. Enkiri was a big reason for the team’s success. Forced to play behind boys’ No. 1 Mike Murchison the entire season, Enkiri proved that he could play in the top position. Raiders’ coach Brendan O’Connell said that he had a number of good boys’ players that could succeed in any of the singles spots if called upon and he was right. Enkiri’s number was called to play in the boys’ singles bracket of the North District tournament, which he won. ‘‘We knew he was capable of doing that all year. We knew he was good as anyone else in the county. Those two or three days at districts was the best that I saw him play all year,” O’Connell said.
Thembi Watson, Sr., Central — How do you improve on a perfect junior campaign? With a perfect senior campaign. Watson lost just one regular-season match in her career with the Falcons. She proved to be the best girls’ player amongst the 3A/2A schools. The mission from last season was to get Watson playing better competition, which happened on several brief occasions during the preseason. But one thing Watson did do was improve on her regional showing. Last season, Watson was overwhelmed as she bowed out in the first round of the Region IV tournament. Watson played much better in this year’s regional tournament, although her third-place finish was one short of qualifying for the state tournament.
Alex Fischer, So., and Theron Gray, Fr., Eleanor Roosevelt — After working with the team for a few days during the offseason, Raiders coach Brendan O’Connell was sure that he had a team full of talented boys. The problem was that initially, many of the boys, like Fischer and Gray, had singles’ competition in mind. Instead, the two combined to win the North District boys’ doubles title to cap an undefeated regular season. O’Connell said several out-of-county tests early in the year were strong preparation for, ‘‘far and away the best doubles’ team in the county.”
Evie Grayson, So., and LaToshia Bost, So., C.H. Flowers — One of the biggest reasons that Flowers overtook county tennis stronghold Bowie this season was the combination of Grayson and Bost. It did not matter who the two sophomores came up against, Bost and Grayson took them down. The best teams usually come through during the postseason, and the duo did not disappoint as they won the North District girls’ doubles championship.
John Lee, Sr., and Melanie Ocampos-Barry, Fr., Bowie — Bowie coach Russell Maxwell said he knew from the start of the season that he’d be able to rely on his mixed doubles pairing. ‘‘I counted on them both for getting us points for the team and they pulled through,” Maxwell said. The team ripped through the county, going 11-1, and the pair qualified for the Region III tournament by earning fourth place in the North District tourney among a pool of teams that featured players who spent much of the season as No. 1 singles competitors.
Boys Second Team
Timothy Addison, Friendly
Leon Vessels-Grigsby, DeMatha
Tyler Rosenau, Frederick Douglass
Donta Henson, Frederick Douglass
Justin Rice, Suitland
Jared Betts, Bowie
Mike Murchison, Eleanor Roosevelt
Girls Second Team
Parisa Souvannavong, C.H. Flowers
Oretha Grayson, C.H. Flowers
Alysin Oliver, Friendly
Kendra Plummer, Surrattsville
Desiree Monroe, Suitland
Samantha Greene, Northwestern
Christine Ocampos-Barry, Bowie