Bullis invites Whitman over, but it’s a private party

Bulldogs beat public school in a marquee matchup

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

The Bullis boys tennis team stormed through the Interstate Athletic Conference in 2005, and it’s off to another strong start in 2006. Whitman won the Montgomery County Public Schools Division I title last season and finished second in the MCPS tournament. Both have established themselves among the best programs in the county.

But public- and private-school athletics teams rarely match up in competition in the county. So what happened when the two worlds collided Monday at Bullis in Potomac?

It was a private party as the Bulldogs pulled off a 6-1 victory to remain unbeaten at 3-0.

‘‘Whitman can be considered one of the best teams in the area,” said Bullis No. 2 singles player Andrew Zutz, who clinched a 7-5, 6-3 win over Vikings freshman Tim Klanke. ‘‘We proved to the other schools that we’re a force to be reckoned with. It shows we’re one of the best. Everyone has to be gunning for us.”

Though the 6-1 scoreline might seem like a blowout, Monday’s match was a competitive one. It came down to varsity match experience. Bullis’ lineup has undergone only minor alterations since last year’s 13-0 season. And the Vikings (4-2 record), though talented, as a whole, are just not as seasoned. Klanke had four set points at 5-4 in the first set, but was unable to convert. As consistent and quick around the baseline as the freshman was, the stronger Zutz (3-0) just had too much pop on his shots. And he was able to wear his younger opponent down, physically and emotionally. It was Klanke’s first loss of the season. At No. 3 singles, senior Ronald Kamden jumped out to an early 6-0 first-set win over Whitman junior Carlos Palacio. Palacio settled into the match, managing three games in the second set, but ultimately Kamden closed out the 6-0, 6-3 win.

‘‘In that No. 2 singles match, you have a freshman against a junior,” Bullis coach Jack Schore said. ‘‘Tim Klanke is an awfully good player. But he is playing against a good player, who is a junior. If they’re the same year [that match is a lot closer]. And Ronald Kamden is a senior. He knows how to pull out matches. We’re probably a little longer in the tooth than Whitman and that helped us out.”

Whitman’s lone win came at No. 1 singles. Junior Dan Stahl (5-0) used his big serve and devastating forehand to hand Bullis junior Will Beck his first loss of the season, 6-3, 6-2. Stahl used his power off the ground to dissect Beck’s game, keeping him off balance, on the move, and away from his comfort zone at the net.

‘‘I knew I had to keep my head,” Stahl said. ‘‘[Will] can get down on himself if I keep attacking him. I knew I had to move him around. I tried to just move the ball and keep it deep.”

Bullis’ Chris Seckman pulled off a 6-3, 6-2 win over Kirby Mayo in the fourth singles slot. Brian Lee and Alvin Fludd cruised to a 6-0, 6-4 win over Pat Coan and Jamie Utt at No. 2 doubles and Chris Latham and Alex Jackson defeated Andrew Berger and Craig Miller, 6-4, 6-1, at No. 3 doubles.

Whitman’s No.1 doubles team of David Park and Tim Coatales were able to push the Bulldogs to a third set, but the tandem of Casey Fashouer and Doug Silverstein bounced back from a second-set loss to close out the 6-3, 5-7, 6-0 win.

Though Monday’s loss was a disappointing one, the Vikings know it will help them in the long run.

‘‘This match will help get us geared up for some of the tougher matches,” Stahl said. ‘‘It sets a high level of play. If we can learn to play at that level, we’ll be able to win some of the easier matches.”

Bullis is in a different position than last year. Now it is the challenged rather than the challenger. It puts a lot of pressure on the players, but so far they’ve taken on that challenge — Beck’s loss Monday is the only match the Bulldogs have lost this season.

‘‘We’re on top now,” Zutz said. ‘‘We’re the team to beat. We’re the No. 1 team on anyone’s schedule. They’re out to beat us. There’s always that pressure to keep winning. But we just have to take it one match at a time. We can’t look ahead in the schedule.”