Severna Park Tennis Wins Counties But Broadneck Claims State Title


When Severna Park faced Broadneck on April 12, everyone involved had a feeling that they were watching a preview of this year’s county championships. The two schools have been the titans of Anne Arundel County tennis for years, and the talent on both sides was evident in Broadneck’s 5-4 win over the Falcons earlier in the season.

But although Broadneck was able to carry an undefeated record into the county championship, they were unable to exit the tournament unscathed on May 9. When the lights were brightest, Severna Park came out on top, outscoring Broadneck by a single point in order to claim the county championship, uncannily similar to last season’s result.

“When we played the match in the regular season, we tried to match up our lineup with their lineup so that we can come out with the win, and it didn’t match up perfectly for us,” Severna Park coach Heather Herman after counties. “But we did feel like we had a very strong team, and we had a very good chance at beating them in the county tournament, because typically we’ll play more straight up in counties, rather than trying to change our regular lineup to win a match.”

On the Sunday prior to the tournament, Severna Park’s Kaiya Norton suffered a serious knee injury, suspected to be a torn ACL. This knocked Norton out of the draw, forcing Maggie Balderston into her spot. The new pairing of Carys Preston and Balderston reached the semifinals in girls’ doubles, securing crucial points for the Falcons.

“Going into the counties, we had some unfortunate events, so I didn’t think we were going to come out with the win,” coach Herman said. “I’m very proud of the players and the fact that they were able to overcome those obstacles and finish with the win.”

Severna Park’s only individual champion was Charlie Herman, who won his second consecutive county championship in boys singles, defeating his teammate Gavin Gerard in the final. Although he ultimately didn’t walk away with the gold, Gerard had an impressive run that likely made the difference for Severna Park. As the sixth seed, Gerard upset Crofton’s Pablo Crenshaw and Broadneck’s Viktor Lundback, both of whom were top-three seeds, en route to the final.

The duo of Charlie Ernst and Anissa Jean-Claude won gold in mixed doubles, and Olivia Mellynchuk held the girls’ singles crown, giving Broadneck the opportunity to knot the county championship at 26 points apiece. But the tandem of Natalie Hosie and Gigi Garner was outlasted by Crofton’s Sophie Cox and Meera Rathod over a grueling 10-7 tiebreak, forcing Broadneck’s top girls doubles team to settle for silver and effectively sealing a Falcons victory for the evening.

“I think the difficulty is coming up with the best lineup that could ensure the most potential points, without knowing what other schools will be doing with their lineups,” coach Kathleen Perrotta said after Broadneck’s defeat. “It’s also difficult to come up with a roster when I have so many players at very similar levels. You don’t want to feel like you’re overlooking somebody.”

The two teams came into states with a healthy amount of momentum, as both Broadneck and Severna Park were the champions of their respective regions. At the Class 4A East II regionals, Mellynchuk won girls singles, a new duo of Hadley Crooks and Garner won girls’ doubles, and the pairing of Ernst and Jean-Claude won the mixed doubles bracket.

As for Severna Park, Charlie Herman breezed through the boys singles bracket at the Class 3A East I regionals, clinching his spot at the state championships. After placing second at counties, the duo of Connor Pietris and Kiran Spencer avenged their loss at regionals by defeating Arundel’s county-winning pairing of Matthias Linke and Tyler Hester. And after being placed in a new pairing with Carys Preston, Gavin Gerard won the regional championship in mixed doubles.

When it came to states, however, Pietris and Spencer didn’t find much luck, losing to River Hill’s team of Carson Campbell and Roger He in the quarterfinals. After day one, the Falcons were left with Herman and the aforementioned pairing of Preston and Gerard.

Gerard and Preston made quick work of their competition en route to the finals, but they had to settle for silver after losing to Wootton’s tandem of Naomi Esterowitz and Anthony Hall. In boys singles, Herman couldn’t preserve his undefeated season, as he fell to Marriotts Ridge player Mukundh Boopathi in the finals. Last year, Herman also carried an undefeated record to the state finals, before losing in the boys’ doubles bracket to Winston Churchill.

In the Class 4A state championships, Broadneck won the state championship outright for the second consecutive season. The only hiccup that the team saw was in girls’ doubles, where Crooks and Garner lost a competitive semifinal match to Richard Montgomery’s duo of Ellen Bu and Jiajing Zheng. They bounced back strongly in the third-place game, securing bronze by defeating Blair’s duo of Mia Payson and Sophia Ge.

“[My performance] was iffy, but I believe that everybody else did great,” Anissa Jean-Claude said after the Bruins won the championship.

Charlie Ernst added, “There were a few times where we got a little down on ourselves, but we were able to get out of it and build each other up.”

Unsurprisingly, Mellynchuk was able to defeat Eleanor Roosevelt’s Ivanna Canessa in the finals, earning her second consecutive state championship in girls singles and capping off another unbeaten campaign for her. Throughout the entirety of her high school career, Mellynchuk’s only loss was in the state final during the 2022 season.

After a nail-biting quarterfinal matchup that saw them defeat Whitman via tiebreak, the rest of the mixed doubles bracket was smooth sailing for the tandem of Ernst and Jean-Claude. Their finals win over Northwest’s duo of Eileen Dai and Magnus Smith-Peters marked the first state championship for both, as Ernst’s run to the finals last year was cut short by Walter Johnson.

“I definitely felt more confident going into the later matches, because I knew in the first match, those were the strongest players that we’d be playing,” Ernst said following his win. “And since we beat them, I guess it just gave me confidence in the next matches.”

Although Perrotta has confirmed her desire to leave Broadneck to take on the same role at the newly christened Severn Run High School, she made it clear that she intends to leave the team in good hands going forward. The school still has to undergo an interview process to fill that vacancy, but Perrotta has endorsed Rex Kennedy for the head coach role. Kennedy is a physical education teacher at Magothy River Middle who was brought onto Broadneck’s coaching staff this year. Barring obligations that prevent him from committing to the job, she expects Kennedy to take her place next season.


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