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Once again, talent abounds at Maury

So, who's the top boys singles player at Maury?

Evidently, it depends upon the day, as the Commodores have three well-qualified applicants for the job. Right now, the lineup features Harrison Gray has the top spot, followed by Ethan Willingham and Oliver Siegfried. But that order could shift as soon as Wednesday, when Siegfried challenges Willingham for the right to challenge Gray in the latest series of intra-squad battles.

"You eat what you kill," Maury coach Janita Burgess Hess said. "If you want that No. 1 court, you have to kick the other guy's butt."

Willingham, a senior and the son of tennis teaching pro Tony Willingham, was the No. 1 player virtually all of last season (Tony Willingham is currently the pro at the WestSide Athletic Club in Powells Point, N.C.). But Gray, a junior, closed the gap by developing a weapons-grade forehand.

In his only real test against a player  not from Maury this season, Gray dispatched Granby's talented Julius Gavin 6-1, 6-3. Gavin was a first-team All-Monitor-Merrimac Conference pick last season.

Hess said it also helps that, of the three players, Gray appears to "want" the No. 1 slot the most.

"It's like he has this visceral need to be on top," Hess said.

Siegfried, a sophomore who is also an outstanding swimmer, also improved significantly during the offseason, to the point where now very little separates the members of this trio.

"Right now Harrison is probably ahead by a nose," Hess said. "But on any given Friday, it could change."

The Commodores, who reached the Group 5A state semifinals last year, have feasted on a steady diet of overmatched Norfolk and Portsmouth public schools in racing out to a 6-0 record. Maury doesn't have a match this week and will be on spring break after that. Then schedule toughens considerably upon from there, though, as Maury will scrimmage Norfolk Collegiate on April 18 and face 5A South rival Princess Anne the following day.

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