If not for a pair of freshmen fraternal twins, who stole the show at Friday’s Maryland Tennis Championships, Frederick County would have had a rough afternoon.
On a hot, humid day on the tennis courts at the University of Maryland, College Park, all but one of the Frederick County players in the tournament lost in the first round. The Tuscarora High School boys’ doubles pairing of Nathan and Tyler Homon downed Easton’s Chris Ballentine and Evan Claggett in a first-round thriller, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, and became the first team in Titans history to win a match at the state tournament.
“That was fantastic,” said Tuscarora assistant coach Howie Putterman. “This is actually the first time that a Tuscarora team has gotten out of the first round. As freshmen, that bodes well for the future.”
Following the exhausting victory, the Homons faced a tall task — literally — in an imposing pair from Great Mills, Juha Ellonen and William Clark.
Both players stood at least 6-foot-3 and featured remarkable power strokes. The Homons, meanwhile, both are 5-5 and play a tactical lob game.
“It was like David and Goliath,” Tyler said. “We saw them warming up earlier. They were pretty good. We were like, ‘We hope we don’t play them,’ because we thought we were going to get beat pretty bad, but we didn’t.”
Surprisingly, even to the Homons themselves, Tuscarora’s freshman pair won the first set, 6-3, shocking the powerful duo from Great Mills. At times, Ellonen clapped his hand against his racket after a shot impressed him and quickly developed a respect for the brothers. As the match wore on, however, the Homons tired and were unable to advance. They dropped the next two sets, 6-2, 6-4, but came away feeling good about their performance.
“We were just trying to make the team,” said Nathan, who has only played tennis for two years. “We didn’t expect it because we’re freshmen. It’s just crazy how far we got. We kept winning and our self esteem just boosted because we were like, ‘How are these teams not beating us?’”
In the end, a more powerful and experienced team ended the Homons’ season, but they’ve got three more years to make another run in the state championships.
“That team is the best team we’ve run into all year long,” Putterman said. “They’re powerful. I think we surprised them early. The best thing about these guys is they never give up. Here they were, this is their sixth set of the day against two monsters. Let’s be honest, those guys hit like college kids. And they just stuck in there and they play until the last point. That’s admirable. I wish we could take the credit for that, but they came to us like that.”
The rest of Frederick County’s rough afternoon on Friday featured the fourth-ranked boys’ doubles team of Tim Anderson and Matt Guyton from Walkersville losing to River Hill’s James Zhan and Oliver Zhao.
Tuscarora’s two-time county champion Ana Chernova lost to Surrattsville’s Cierra Plummer in the first round of the girls’ singles bracket. Urbana’s Edward Yoon lost to Bel Air’s Michael Quang.
In girls’ doubles, Walkersville’s Julia Ashe and Andrea Gough lost to Fallston’s Rachael Holehouse and Anna Holehouse, 6-3, 6-0. In mixed doubles, Oakdale’s Michelle Rizk and Karl Sasse dropped their opening-round match against Amanda Fewster Bryan Geselman (Winters Mill).