By DANIEL KAUFFMAN
12:12 AM EDT, June 12, 2012
When a list of candidates for Washington County player of the year honors was published in the preseason, North Hagerstown junior Max Ober was not on it.
Ober made the transition from doubles — in which he went 29-7 as a freshman and sophomore with three different partners — to singles this season, where he took over the No. 1 spot because of an injury to sophomore Teddy Schoeck, the 2011 Herald-Mail county player of the year.
Putting his motto — “Hard work will ultimately bring success” — to practice, Ober went 17-1 in the regular season, the best singles record by any county player. Then he teamed with Mollie Johnson to go 8-2 in mixed doubles, winning county and Region I tournament titles and finishing fourth at the Maryland state tournament.
So much for preseason prognostication. Ober is an easy choice as the 2012 Herald-Mail Washington County Boys Tennis Player of the Year.
“I’m truly honored because I’ve never had a sports accomplishment like this before,” Ober said.
“He hit with me a lot (during the season) and you could see the progression,” Hubs coach Kevin Reynolds said. “He just got better and better.”
Ober’s only singles loss came to Boonsboro’s Serge Aleshin-Guendel, 6-3, 7-6 (6), in the third match of the season. Ober said his seventh match of the season — a 7-6 (7), 6-1 victory over Clear Spring’s Zac O’Neal — was a turning point.
“I was down 0-5 in the first set and came back to win the first set, and I knew from that point I had it,” Ober said. “I knew I was capable of beating the top players in the county.”
Two weeks later, Ober got revenge on Aleshin-Guendel, 6-4, 6-3.
“I was really pumped for that one,” Ober said. “I knew if I played my best, I was capable of beating him. It felt really good winning that one. ... I think every match I learned more and more how to play singles and I feel like I improved every match going forward.”
“When he played Serge the first time, he didn’t have that selective aggression, so Serge picked him apart,” Reynolds said. “By the end of the season, Max had learned the strategies and he blew him off the court. ... There’s not a player in the state that I think is more fit than Max is. He can outrun anybody and outhustle anybody. Once the skills came along, he started burying people.”
Before the county tournament, Reynolds made the decision to pair Ober up with Johnson, a move that worked out well. Ober said he had no problem with not being given a postseason shot at singles.
“I was really excited because I thought it gave us an opportunity to make it to the state tournament, which ultimately is what happened,” Ober said. “I was excited to get back to doubles as well, having played doubles the previous two years. I knew with a strong player like Mollie, we could go far.”
Ober is joined on the All-County First Team by:
Anthony Adams, Williamsport
Wildcats senior went 11-7 at No. 1 singles, finishing third at the county tournament.
Serge Aleshin-Guendel, Boonsboro
Warriors junior went 16-6 at No. 1 singles, repeated as the county tournament singles champion and finished fourth in Region I.
Stephen Flessner, Williamsport
Wildcats junior went 12-2 at No. 2 singles, then teamed with Kyle Marshall to win the county tournament boys doubles title.
Scott Hovermale, Clear Spring
Blazers senior went 18-3 at No. 1 doubles with Andrew Shupp — including 15-0 in the regular season. They finished second at the county tournament and fourth in Region I.
Kyle Marshall, Williamsport
Wildcats senior went 13-3 at No. 1 doubles with three different partners, then teamed with Flessner to win the county tournament boys doubles title.
Zac O’Neal, Clear Spring
Blazers senior went 15-4 at No. 1 singles, finishing second to Aleshin-Guendel at the county tournament.
Andrew Shupp, Clear Spring
Blazers senior went 18-3 at No. 1 doubles with Hovermale — including 15-0 in the regular season. They finished second at the county tournament and fourth in Region I.
ALL-COUNTY HONORABLE MENTION
Boonsboro — Sam D’Alauro, David Heim, Chase Remsburg, Nathan Weirich. Clear Spring — Nick Brandt, Levi Bucher, Cory Caudell, Johnny Henesy, Corey McClure, Zach Robertson. North Hagerstown — Teddy Beachley, Drew Brady, Ross Eastman III, Caleb Lyle, Connor Troxell. Saint James — Boudi El Gohary, Emmett Orfan. Smithsburg — Young Chin, Matt Deal, Adam Dwyer, Jacob Dwyer, Josh Lee, Logan McSherry. St. Maria Goretti — Aaron Hawk, Mateo Pelja, Bryce Reeder, Rodrigo Reyna, Aaron Snook, Simon Wroblewski.
(Players must have completed at least six matches and have a .500 record or better.)
Max Ober, North — 17-1
Zac O’Neal, Clear Spring — 15-4
Serge Aleshin-Guendel, Boonsboro — 16-6
Anthony Adams, Williamsport — 11-7
Stephen Flessner, Williamsport — 12-2
Corey McClure, Clear Spring — 12-3
Drew Brady, North — 15-5
Emmett Orfan, Saint James — 11-7
Aaron Snook, Goretti — 7-7
Rodrigo Reyna, Goretti — 8-8
Mateo Pelja, Goretti — 8-5
Hovermale/Shupp, Clear Spring — 18-3
Corgard/Marshall, Williamsport — 6-2
Reeder/Snook, Goretti — 9-4
Deal/McSherry, Smithsburg — 9-7
Hawk/Reyna, Goretti — 10-2
Bucher/Caudell, Clear Spring — 10-3
Chin/Lee, Smithsburg — 13-4
Eastman/Lyle, North — 6-3
Lyle/Smith, North — 6-3
D’Alauro/Remsburg, Boonsboro — 6-5
Brandt/Robertson, Clear Spring — 6-0
A. Dwyer/J. Dwyer, Smithsburg — 9-3
Beachley/Troxell, North — 12-5
Pelja/Wroblewski, Goretti — 6-3
Kurapaty/Yanes, Boonsboro — 5-5
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