HERSHEY -- Jonah Rebert got to experience a District Three tennis singles semifinal a year ago as a freshman. He carried that into a finals berth during his first scholastic go-round last spring.
The Lancaster Country Day School sophomore earned a return engagement on Friday, with hopes of carrying it one step further this time.
Rebert reached the Class 2A semifinals with a pair of victories at Hershey Racquet Club: a 6-1, 6-0 defeat of Susquehanna Township's Ehi Jatto in the first round, followed by a tougher 6-0, 6-4 conquest of Brandywine Heights' Ethan Rothermel in the quarterfinals — a rematch of last year's District Three semifinal, won by Rebert 6-2, 6-2.
Rebert came out of the gates hard, overwhelming Rothermel during the first set. But the experienced Brandywine Heights ace steadied his game during the second set, pressing Rebert but never taking a lead. A service break got it to within 3-4, before Rebert broke back and closed it out two games later.
"Well, Ethan's a senior and a fighter and I knew that, and I knew he wasn't going fade away like some kids would have after that 6-0 first set," Rebert said. "I played him in the district semis last year and it was similar — I came out really strong, then he put up a fight.
"I definitely played better the first set today, but to be able to fight and finish it out is always a positive. He pushed me. … I didn't return service as well in the second set as I would have like to, but he definitely picked up his (service game) as well."
Rebert draws Pequea Valley's Brady Burns in the 2A semifinals Saturday, back at Hershey Racquet Club. Burns reached by defeating Will Schreck of Wyomissing 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 in a draining three-set quarterfinal.
Top-seeded Nonpawitt Sirirungruangsarn of Wyomissing breezed into the semifinals without dropping a game; he'll be joined for that semifinal match by promising York Suburban freshman Parker Lando.
Lando reached by dispatching Rebert's teammate, No. 4 seed George Markley of Country Day, in straight sets by a 7-6 (1), 6-4 count.
Markley, a junior, handled Mason Wagner of Trinity 6-1, 6-3 in his opening match before encountering Lando, talented, steady shot-making machine who spent the better part of their match working Markley across the baseline.
Markley knew he was in for a tussle when he engaged Lando in a 20-minute first game that featured nearly 20 deuces. Markley eventually prevailed in that first game, but Lando's mind-numbing consistency proved problematic for LCD's No. 2 player.
"It was the longest game I've ever played," Markley said. "We were going back and forth. I could tell right from that it was going to be a long, hard match. He knew how to run me around."
Brendan McNamara of Lancaster Catholic withdrew from the AA field for undisclosed reasons and was replaced by Conrad Weiser alternate Nick Balaci, who lost 6-0, 6-0 to Wyomissing's top player.
Friday's Class 3A matches were held at Racquet Club West, a departure from District Three tradition in an attempt to avoid first-round court backlogs at one facility.
Unseeded Tom Chairs of Manheim Township reached the 3A semifinals by posting a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 comeback victory over No. 4 seed Max Kluger of Cumberland Valley. Chairs opened his tournament with a 6-0, 6-2 first round defeat of Muhlenberg's Hugo Ramos.
Chairs will face repeat 3A champion Holden Koons of Dallastown in one 3A semifinal today. Jack Muraika of Cedar Crest and Ben Clary of Palmyra continue their rivalry in the other semifinal.
Hempfield's duo of Jake Curtin and Ben Cooke both went out on Friday. Curtin lost to Hershey's Andreas Wingert 6-3, 6-2 in his first round match; Cooke was dropped by Clary 6-2, 6-1 in his first-rounder.
Manheim Central's Trent Martin also lost in the first round. Martin fell to Dallastown's Jonathan Burns 6-2, 6-4.
Cocalico's Colby Martin fell victim to Kluger by a 6-2, 6-0 score in their opening round encounter.