With tears streaming down his cheeks, Marshall lifted onto his shoulder the rolled-up net that used to be on the Williamsport court that classmate and friend Samantha Kelly played on this season. Having placed the net next to the North Hagerstown court where he and Flessner defeated Clear Spring’s Scott Hovermale and Andrew Shupp 6-3, 6-3 in the final, he then carried it off as emotions of sadness and triumph mixed.
“Words can’t even describe how I feel,” said Marshall, who this season often played on the court next to Kelly, who was killed along with Williamsport classmate Brendon Colliflower in an auto accident last weekend. “We had more heart. No one has more heart than I do, and that’s a fact.”
Marshall and Flessner — who were paired up for the first time for the county tournament — overcame a 3-1 deficit in the first set by winning the last five games in the set, with Marshall’s big serves and strong net play leading the way.
Hovermale and Shupp — who were 17-0 this season entering the final — kept the second set close, trailing by a break at 4-3. But Marshall and Flessner held serve to make it 5-3, then broke Hovermale and Shupp in a final game that included two deuce points to wrap up the title.
“I’ve been waiting since I was a freshman to win this title, and regionals is on the way,” Marshall said. “I’m not stopping until I get that, too.”
Clear Spring swept the boys and girls team titles for the second straight season to keep what coach Lisa Shives called “the best season we’ve ever had” going strong. Both the boys and girls went 15-0 in dual meets and won MVAL Antietam titles.
“Thirteen of our kids are going to regionals, so that’s awesome,” Shives said.
Boonsboro’s Serge Aleshin-Guendel and Clear Spring’s Miranda Kearney both repeated as county tournament singles champions.
Aleshin-Guendel used a strong forehand to get ahead of Clear Spring’s Zac O’Neal early in their boys singles final, then overcame severe cramping in his dominant right hand and his legs to pull out a 7-5, 6-1 victory.
“I don’t know how I played,” said Aleshin-Guendel, who had to go for broke several times in the last three games and came up with several outright winners. “I just thought, ‘Hit the ball as hard as I can.’ (The first set) was the best I played all season.”
Kearney improved her season record to 17-0 by defeating teammate Miranda Speak 6-2, 6-0 in the girls singles final. Kearney, who upset South Hagerstown’s Tinuke Adetunji in three memorable sets in last year’s final, dropped just seven games in four sets in this year’s tournament.
“I had a lot more pressure on my shoulders. I’d rather be the underdog,” Kearney said. “I had to win this year or people might think I didn’t deserve it last year.”
Boonsboro’s girls doubles team of Sarah Colgan and Ashlyn Hawbaker improved to 18-0 this season by beating North’s Sam Roberts and Kelli Wright 6-1, 6-1 in a final that was a little closer than the final score — Roberts and Wright failed to close out opportunities in four different games.
Colgan and Hawbaker dropped just eight games over six sets in cruising to their first county tournament title after two runner-up finishes.
“We work so well together and that helped us get ahead,” Hawbaker said. “It was close games, close points.”
“I’m just glad that we finally won (a county title),” Colgan said.
North’s mixed doubles team of Max Ober and Mollie Johnson defeated Clear Spring’s Corey McClure and Dominique Forsman 6-3, 6-3 in the first final of the day. Like Marshall, it was an emotional weekend for Johnson, who was a pallbearer in Kelly’s funeral Friday.
“I’ve been playing for Sam the last two days. I have to do it for her,” Johnson said. “It’s been very hard.”