Between cheerleading, having achieved the school’s first title in 22 years, and girls’ basketball’s first undefeated regular season and deep playoff runs, Glen Burnie athletics has one of its best years in history.
Now tennis joins the fun.
For the first time in at least a decade, Gopher’s tennis program won a match – a 5-4 nail-biter over the Northeast last Friday. No exact records were found for the tennis program to see exactly how far back the drought went.
It is the second lost race this week as Annapolis softball cashed in its first win since 2017 on Monday.
The truth about this significant victory unfolded miraculously on coach Aavo Tomkov’s scorecard one by one. His No. 1 boys singles, Sam Wade-Dutterer, and No. 2 girls singles, senior Kristin Hall, won. So did his No. 2 girl singles, Ashley Jenkins, as did his mixed doubles, Natalie Mullen and Brian Pena-Quintanilla.
Tomkov’s brain repeated, “Oh my god.” It only took one more point for Gophers to handle this. His No. 1 boys doubles team, Dev Patel and Geo Bernal, went for a third set of tiebreaker, but dropped to the Northeast.
Then his No. 2 girl doubled duo, Laiba Saeed and Gabby Garris, took the court.
“They won their first [set], and easy, like 6-0 – and it was like, ‘Wow, it’s going to be this one’, Tomkov said. “We all laugh from ear to ear and say, ‘Okay, let’s not quarrel, let’s not put pressure on the girls out there.’ One thing I have learned over the years as a coach, just let them play their game. ”
Saeed and Garris played; and Saeed and Garris won.
“We rushed to court. It was like the NCAA Championship and the energy was just electric,” Tomkov said.
Tomkov poured credit over his hard-working players, but also his athletic director, Kyle Hines.
“His support for tennis has been fantastic,” Tomkov said. “And I know my co-coaches talk so loudly about him. It really starts from the top, and if you’ve got the support of your sporting director, it makes the coaches’ job so much easier.”
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That support is more than verbal. Unlike some of the other teams in the area with robust heritage, Tomkov predominantly welcomes athletes whose first experience with a racket is with this team. While Tomkov and his two assistant coaches – Matt Bugenhagen, an alum from Glen Burnie, and Alex Barnett, a former Annapolis tennis player – guide their players, Tomkov wanted a little more.
He asked Hines for a “Billie Jean King Eye Coach,” a stick-like motor device that trains athletes in the physical mechanics of tennis and sells for about $ 240 each.
“I even use it when I focus on teaching athletes the importance of contact with the ball and then using the stationary ball,” Tomkov said, “I am able to slowly learn the correct, effective technique of using your legs. at the core of the arms. “
Hines committed, thankfully. The athletic director could not speak louder about his coach, now in his third year. Before Glen Burnie, Tomkov, who also coaches players professionally, took the boys’ tennis team in McLean, Virginia, from undefeated to undefeated district champions over the age of 12. Although his first season in 2020 ended far too soon, Tomkov arrived and pulled about four dozen kids out to the team, Hines said. Compare that to six years before, when Glen Burnie lost matches due to missing numbers.
The program stumbled in 2021 when only 12 athletes returned. But Tomkov and his staff rebuilt – 48 came out in the spring.
Then they took two points from Broadneck, mostly someone had taken from the Bruins at the time. Then Gophers Southern went down to the final match and had similar results with Annapolis.
“He’s making great progress. These kids are young,” Hines said. “In a few years, if he keeps building, I can not see why we can not compete with them.”