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Robert Renfrow, Ashley Lytle, Juha Ellonen, Billy Clark, Lydia Browne, Kristie Holland, Rachel Land, Tyler Collins, Dani Gorman and Caleb Fahrner.
Those names, representing their respective schools, will collectively represent the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference starting today at the state tennis tournament held at the University of Maryland Cole Field House courts in College Park.
Two preliminary rounds begin at 10 a.m. today. The semifinal rounds begin at 10 a.m. Saturday with championship and consolation rounds following at 1 p.m.
Huntingtown’s duo of Collins and Land played to a No. 2 seed in the mixed doubles state bracket, the highest seed awarded to any SMAC singles player or doubles team.
Land and Collins, SMAC and Region IV tournament champions, will begin their tournament run against the North Caroline High School duo of Katie Carmean and Michael White, qualifying from Region VIII.
With Land and Collins on the bottom half of the bracket, the Great Mills Hornets team of Gorman and Fahrner will play the bracket’s No. 1 seed, Aishu Iyer and Julian Mu of Wootton from Region II.
Collins and Land won the Region IV championship last weekend over the 2011 Region IV champions Fahrner and Gorman as both teams qualified for the state tournament.
Already with a name made for himself on the USTA circuit, Leonardtown’s Renfrow, the SMAC and Region IV boys singles tournament champions, enters the boys singles bracket as the No. 3 seed.
Renfrow, who has dropped only one set all season through the regional tournament, will face Vijay Golla from Eleanor Roosevelt of Region III.
Renfrow faced four separate match points in the third set against Severna Park opponent Alex Caueneac last weekend at the Region IV tournament.
Each time, however, Renfrow responded either by hitting a winner or watching Caueneac hit a shot long or into the net.
Renfrow eventually tied the third game at 5 after surviving those four match points and eventually won the third set 7-6, 7-5 in the tiebreaker, delivering him the boys singles region crown. Renfrow won the first set 6-2 and dropped the second set 6-7 (7-3) before the third-set heroics.
“I don’t think I’ve ever won a match coming back from that many match points down,” Renfrow admitted after that match. “I am just so happy I won.”
To earn a rematch with the only player to win a set from Renfrow, both players will have to advance to the championship match.
Lytle, Renfrow’s counterpart, has been dreaming of being in the state tournament since she began tennis at Leonardtown as a freshman.
This morning when Lytle, a senior, steps foot onto the University of Maryland courts, she would have achieved one of her major tennis goals of qualifying for the state tennis tournament.
Lytle, the SMAC champion, will face Farah Vejzagic of Loch Raven of Region VI in her opening round match today.
“I thought going to states [individually] was great, but this just tops everything,” Lytle said Saturday. “It’s so amazing and I am so happy for my team.”
Clark and Ellonen of Great Mills, the SMAC and Region IV champions, earned a No. 3 seed in the boys doubles bracket and will face Sam Friedman and Andy Rao from Towson of Region VI.
Both have said how much they enjoy playing with each other and that the talent between the two can lead to great things, evidenced by the duo’s ability to win the Region IV title over a previously-undefeated team from Severna Park.
That Severna Park duo Paul Balleza and Trey Albers is in the top half of the bracket and a rematch could only happen in the championship finals.
Clark and Ellonen’s Great Mills teammates Browne and Holland will face Laura Solomon and Morgan Glazer from Franklin of Region VI in their first round contest today.