HERSHEY — There were a few tears after Manheim Township fell 3-2 to Latrobe in the semifinals of PIAA team tennis action Saturday afternoon at the Hershey Racquet Club.
They especially flowed from the three seniors on the team, Scotty Reynolds, Cami Henneman and Julie Briner.
“It was emotional for all of the team, especially the three seniors,” Blue Streaks' coach John Briner said. “They have played the game since they were 5 years old, and they're all fantastic players. But we put up a great match.”
Great indeed, as it was anyone’s for the taking, down to the last players on the court.
So, just who was this Latrobe team that was able to eke out a win over the Streaks? Although a mystery of sorts, they were no pushovers, having knocked off WPIAL powerhouse Peters Township to earn the berth in states, and they were riding a 32-0 section record since 2017.
Winning matches for the Streaks were No. 3 singles player Kayla Kurtz and the No. 1 doubles team of Henneman and Briner.
Kurtz won her match 6-2, 6-4 over the Wildcats' Carolina Waters. Kurtz jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the first set but fell behind in her second set early. She then rallied from two down to take a 3-2 lead and never looked back.
For the doubles duo of Henneman and Briner, they downed Reese Petrosky and Mia Jain 6-4, 7-5. It was similar to Kurtz’s win, as the two battled back from a 2-3 second-set deficit to take home the win.
“I thought these could be my last points of my high school career, and they were,” Briner said.
Henneman echoed those thoughts but added, “I’m glad we were able to make it this far and to make it to states with my team.”
The Streaks' No.1 player, Avery Palandjian, and No. 2 player, Reynolds, both lost their singles matches, but they'll be headed to PIAA state action next weekend looking for individual crowns.
Palandjian lost in two sets, 6-2, 6-3, but never gave up, especially in the second set. Down 5-0, she battled back to make it 5-3 but fell just short of the win. Reynolds lost 6-2, 6-3.
True, it wasn’t the season-ending the Streaks were hoping for, as most thought they would at least get a chance to play in the finals.
Yet considering how far they had come in a season that nearly was not due to COVID-19, there was no reason to hang their heads.
“We didn’t know much about them, so we were hoping our experience would help us,” Briner said. “So it’s very tough, but we are just thrilled to make it this far and be in the top four of the state.
“If you look back two months ago, I don’t think anyone thought we would have an entire season. But we won league, won districts and I’m proud of them, no one rolled over and played dead today.”