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Doubles teams looking for gold in wide-open field

Heidelberg's Jack Kolodziejski returns a AFNORTH shot as teammate Wylder Raney watches. The top-seeded duo defeated Luke Bonenclark and Brooks Wolfe 6-1, 6-0 in the second round match at the DODDS-Europe tennis championships.

WIESBADEN, Germany - If there’s one guarantee for the 2012 DODDS-Europe Tennis Championships in Wiesbaden, it’s that new boys and girls doubles teams will feel gold around their necks Saturday.

Heidelberg seniors Jack Kolodziejski and Wylder Raney hope they’re the ones with new neckwear.

The duo finished fourth in last year’s championships, but feel they’ve had more time to build up their chemistry. And like their female counterparts, they don’t have to contend with any defending champs, because last year’s doubles’ winners graduated.

The Heidelberg team’s chemistry was on display Thursday during opening rounds of the tournament as Kolodziejski’s potent backhand and Raney’s scorching serve made quick work of the overmatched AFNORTH pairing of Luke Bonenclark and Brooks Wolfe 6-1, 6-0.

“It’s all about communication, that’s the key to success in the double’s game,” Kolodziejski said.

Among the competition is second-seed Ramstein. The Royals hope that returning senior Aryan von Eicken, who was a member of last year’s runner-up doubles team that lost narrowly in the finals to International School of Brussels, can team up with Lee DeBose to lead the Royals to the finals again.

Opening day action saw the top-seeded Patch girls squad get challenged during their first match. Panthers junior Christine Young and freshman Marina Forun advanced in the winner’s brackets after outlasting a scrappy AFNORTH squad of Hope Bonenclark and Sarah Seitz; 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.

“I was scared,” Young said about her feelings after dropping the second set. “We hoped to win it in two sets quick, not what happened.”

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Patch is expected to be challenged by Ramstein, ISB and Wiesbaden for the girls double’s crown.

The hometown girls from Wiesbaden – whose two teams make up a quarter of the quarterfinals - hope to carry the advantage of playing on indoor courts every day during the season – all of the tournament’s venues are inside – far into the tournament.

“We’re aiming high,” Wiesbaden sophomore Peyton Miller said.

In singles action, it’s the usual suspects and a few new faces that hope to make a stir.

Both the boys and girls defending champions are back.

Ramstein senior Meghan Augsburger, who won last year’s title despite her No. 3 seeding, enters play as a No. 4 seed.

Augsburger, who also won a gold medal her freshman year playing doubles, says despite having a ‘bit of senioritis’, she’d like to prove everyone wrong with her seeding.

But the Royals senior said this year carries a bit less pressure, because she’s already won before.

“I want to do well, but I won’t be heartbroken,” Augsburger said. “I’ve already exceeded what I wanted to do.”

Eugenia Srodowski, the junior home-schooled student representing Patch, said she’s excited to play in her first European championship and hopes to ride her backhand and ground strokes to the victory stand.

Srodowski rode a straight set blanking of Alconbury’s Caitlin Cash to earn a Friday quarterfinal matchup against American Overseas School of Rome’s Ashley Metzler, who upset the eighth seed, Kate Panian from Vicenza on Thursday.

“It’s fun, but I’m very competitive,” Srodowski said, then jokingly added: “Tennis is not a game, it’s war.”

No. 2 seed Alexandria Bellas from AFNORTH and Wiesbaden freshman Jade Sullivan, the tournament’s No. 3 seed, cruised through their opening match on Thursday.

The two-time defending boys champ, Patch’s Ajdin Tahirovic,is once again as the favorite. Last year’s runner-up, SHAPE’s Dimitris Stavropoulos and the always tough Cameron Meeker from Heidelberg round out the top three seeds.

All three top boys seeds cruised along on Thursday without dropping a set.

pattonm@estripes.osd.mil

 

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