Seizing control Hempfield's Hagino rallies, takes L-L AAA title from CV's Mast; AA crown Bahney's
BY TIM GROSS, Sports Writer
A backhand blast from Derek Hagino plunked the top of the net late in the second set of the L-L League boys' Flight One Class AAA championship match Tuesday. With a pop, the ball floated in the air for an instant before falling just over the net, far from the reach of Conestoga Valley's Darren Mast in a telltale sign that the momentum of the match, and the balance of power in the league, had shifted.
Hagino swept the second set after rallying to steal the first, capturing the Class AAA singles crown and upending defending-champion Mast, 7-5, 6-0, Tuesday afternoon at Conestoga Valley.
Elco's Adam Bahney defeated teammate Tyler Arnold, 6-2, 6-2, for the Flight One Class AA title.
"I got into a little bit of a rhythm," Hagino said, "I was able to find it."
"It" had eluded the sophomore through the early stages of the first set. Hagino double-faulted twice, sending his serve into the net, and Mast capitalized, seizing a 3-1 advantage.
"Derek was missing on his first serve," Conestoga Valley coach Dale Gregg said, "and he was taking a long time with his second serve. That's when I thought we had a chance to really take control of the match."
With his serve off, Hagino managed to keep the match close, using calculated winners -- driving Mast across the baseline -- and, in one case, a desperate, over-the-shoulder shot that found the far corner.
"I got pretty lucky there," Hagino said. "I had a handful of lucky shots, and it really helped me out."
With his handful of lucky shots, and a more consistent swing as the first set continued, Hagino said he found "it" -- the comfort and confidence that powered his undefeated league season.
And Mast felt the pressure.
"He became more consistent with his first serve," Mast said. "I wasn't putting the ball anywhere. I was hitting it right back to him, right in his strike zone."
Down 5-3, Hagino held his serve before breaking Mast's to even the first set.
"I kind of gave that game away," Mast said. "I ended up giving the rest of the match away."
Hagino swept the rest of the first set and took control of the second.
"I was kind of pressing to get back in the match," Mast said. "I think I just rushed a little too much in the second set."
The second set, Hempfield coach Melinda Bell said, looked more like the style of play Hagino has displayed over the last three months, a style galvanized by first-set struggles in the biggest match of the year.
"It was a little bit different," Bell said, "to see (Hagino) have to settle into the match a little bit. That's not typical for him; but honestly, I'm glad it happened because I was glad to see that he didn't get rattled and that he does have the mental ability to really stay in the match."
Warwick's Tony Deimler defeated Cedar Crest's Colin Muraika 6-4, 6-4 in the Class AAA third-place match. Elco's Galen McNaughton won third place in Class AA, defeating Lancaster Mennonite's Caleb Harnish, 6-4, 1-6, 6-2.
In Flight Two, Hempfield's Tommy Athey topped Cedar Crest's Nick Tull, 6-1, 4-6, 10-0. Manheim Township's Dan Ansel outlasted Hempfield's Kyle Lamb 6-1, 7-6 (7-2) in Flight Three, and Donegal's Colby Hoover edged Hempfield's Nate Martinez 6-1, 6-4 in Flight Four.
In doubles, Hagino and Athey won the Class AAA title, topping Manheim Central's Josh Kaiser and Colin Wolgemuth, 6-2, 6-4.
The Class AA doubles title went to Elco's Bahney and McNaughton, who beat Donegal's Eric Ebersole and Andrew Hollinger, 4-6, 7-5, 10-3. In Flight Two doubles, Hempfield's Martinez and Calvin Athey topped Lancaster Mennonite's Caleb Derstine and Jon Sauder, 8-0. Lancaster Catholic's Tom O'Brien and Matt Howe won Flight Three, 8-6, over Hempfield's Austin Kintner and Ryan Kassees.
As the day wound down, with momentum on his side, Hagino sliced a serve between Kaiser and Wolgemuth, finishing off the Central duo and punctuating Hagino's day at the top of the league.