BOYS' TENNIS: Fortna wins district crown - LancasterOnline: Sports

BOYS' TENNIS: Fortna wins district crown

Defeats Clark for AAA title; Match halted by injury

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Posted: Monday, May 7, 2012 10:43 pm | Updated: 7:45 pm, Thu Sep 12, 2013.

Hempfield's Andrew Clark had had enough.

After 90 minutes of his District Three Class AAA singles championship match, he felt the pain in his leg. He felt the fatigue from a three-set semifinal match. He felt Cedar Crest's Weston Fortna's momentum in serve after serve, point after point. He felt the District Three title slipping away Monday afternoon at Hershey Racquet Club.

And he pulled himself from the match, giving Fortna the crown after two and a half sets.

"If I'm not able to run back and forth, it's really hard to compete with the other guy who's 100 percent," Clark said.

The guy at 100 percent, Fortna, watched Clark struggle with limited movement after calling time out with the score tied 1-1 in the second set. A silver medalist in past district singles and doubles tournaments, and the runner-up in last week's L-L singles championship, Fortna wanted to maintain his composure while his opponent sat on the sideline drinking pickle juice and rubbing his leg, wrapped in tape, in attempts to relieve the cramping pains.

"I kind of had to stay focused," Fortna said. "It wasn't like a breeze going through. I worked hard to win."

Fortna swept the rest of the set and took the first three points of the third before Clark retired.

"I felt bad a little bit for Weston," said Hempfield coach Rob Bair, "because it's kind of hard to play someone like that. You don't know whether to run (Clark) around or not."

In the first set, it was Fortna running around. Clark jumped to a 4-0 lead and finished Fortna, 6-4, after a rally.

"Andrew got up on him," said Cedar Crest coach Mike Rohrbach, "and (Fortna) kind of dug himself into a hole, but he certainly played well at the end of the first set. He was a point or two away from getting it to 5-5, and I would've liked his chances."

Fortna attributed his early mistakes to the grind he endured to reach the final. After completing the AP chemistry exam in the morning, Fortna grinded out a 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 over Manheim Township's David Musser in the semifinal. Fortna led, 4-1, in the third set, but a resilient Musser kept extending the battle.

"It was kind of emotionally draining," Fortna said. "When I was playing Musser, I kind of let my head get in the way sometimes. I was thinking too much, doing too much worrying, thinking, 'What if I lose this match?' You can't do that. It really drops the confidence."

Meanwhile, Clark found himself in a grind against Conestoga Valley's Darren Mast, the L-L singles champion, in the other semifinal. Mast evened the match with a 6-3 second set, but Clark endured to win the match on a grueling 7-5 third set.

"I stopped missing shots," Clark said. "I was making all my winners and everything."

"He had a great run going through this tournament," Bair said of Clark. "It was the best he was playing."

In the end, Rohrbach said Fortna's conditioning helped him power through a long afternoon of tennis.

"If a kid like Wes is lifting and running," Rohrbach said, "he's such a strong kid, and these back-to-back matches kind of favor him."

Mast defeated Musser in the third-place match. It took three sets, including a tiebreak in the first, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 7-5.

In the Class AA bracket, Lancaster Country Day's Blaise Casselbury outlasted Wyomissing's Rodrigo Saad through three sets, 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 before falling to top-seeded Ricardo Saad, Rodrigo's brother, in the finals. The Saad duo's resilience frustrated the freshman.

"Usually, when you play somebody who puts so many balls in play like that," Country Day coach Jim Phipps said, "it's taxing, physically and mentally."

At several points during the title match, Casselbury looked at his racquet in disgust after an errant shot. He shouted in frustration, and dropped to one knee after losing points.

"Blaise didn't play today like he has for the rest of the season," Phipps said, "but that's what good players do to you. Good players make that happen. They give you balls that keep you off balance. They give you shots that keep you off rhythm, so you don't feel confident."

And Ricardo Saad, Phipps said, is a good player.

"Ricardo's just tough," he said. "He's just good. He does everything well."

Casslebury's silver medal earned him a spot in the state tournament scheduled to begin May 25. Fortna, Clark and Mast also earned bids with wins Monday.

The physically and mentally taxing postseason continues today with team tournament action. In Class AAA semifinals, Fortna and the Falcons face Dallastown at noon. Hempfield, with or without Clark, challenges South Western at 3:45.

In Class AA semifinals, the Rodrigo brothers and Andre Frick, third place in the singles bracket, lead Wyomissing against Biglerville at 1:15. Cassselbury and Country Day face Camp Hill at 2:30.

tgross@lnpnews.com

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