The COVID-19 pandemic canceled a promising 2020 season for Lancaster-Lebanon League boys tennis players. Still, 2021 turned out to be a pretty good season indeed, with league players posting three District Three titles and a pair of state crowns.
Lancaster Country Day sophomore Nile Abadir and the Lancaster Catholic team accounted for four of those, each winning district and state gold in Class 2A.
Also earning gold was the Crusaders’ doubles team of Brendan McNamara and George Brubaker, with the Class 2A district title.
All of those came out of L-L Section Three, which entering the season was heralded as among one of the strongest divisions in the state.
Pequea Valley head coach Eric Burns, whose team won the 2019 Class 2A state team title, said before the season began that at least three of the section’s teams were among the best in the state.
“There are a lot of upperclassmen (in the section) and they’ve played against each other for a while,” Lancaster Catholic coach Mike Cannon said. “And they’ve taken all they’ve learned and what they’ve worked on the last four years and put it all together in their senior seasons.”
On winning its state title, Lancaster Catholic went a perfect 21-0. So that meant some of the state’s best 2A teams lost to the Crusaders, including Section Three opponents Pequea Valley, Donegal and Lancaster Country Day. The Braves and Indians lost multiple times to the Crusaders, between the regular season and league and district playoffs, and, faced with those tough opponents, Country Day couldn’t even advance to the postseason, despite a 9-3 record.
The combined overall record for the four Section Three teams was 53-11.
Like Lancaster Catholic, Abadir was undefeated on the season. The sophomore Country Day standout — it would have been interesting to see how far he would have gone in 2020 — ran roughshod over most of his opponents, but had to gut out a pair of three-set wins, after losing the first set in both, in the last two matches at the PIAA tournament.
“We were setting goals at the beginning of the year. … We said, ‘If this is what you want, let’s shoot for it, let’s work towards it and let’s do what we need to do,’ “ Lancaster Country Day coach Chris Wilson said of Abadir striving for a state title. “We wanted to get here, whatever the result was going to be. It was a good ride.”
More state action
Donegal, which finished 12-5, joined Lancaster Catholic in the PIAA Class 2A team tournament and won its opening-round match. The Indians then fell to Masterman, which finished as the runner-up to the Crusaders.
Also reaching the state tournament was the Penn Manor doubles team of Curtis Rabatin and Maxwell Davis. Rabatin and Davis went on to finish fourth in the state in Class 3A.
Rabatin and Davis helped the Comets (14-3) reach the state 3A team tournament. Penn Manor lost to eventual state champion Lower Merion, which didn’t lose any singles or doubles matches in the tournament, in the first round.
Pequea Valley’s Brady Burns competed in 2A singles, losing his opening match to Nicolas Scheller of North Catholic, who went on to take Abadir to three sets in the final.
During Lancaster Catholic’s run to the district 2A title, the Crusaders knocked off Pequea Valley in the first round and Donegal in the quarterfinals. While the Indians were able to go on and finish third to earn a state berth, the loss meant the Braves, who finished 11-3, wouldn’t be able to defend their state title.
Abadir’s district run was dominant, losing just four games. He earned the title after winning the first set against Camp Hill’s Josh Pantaloni, who then retired with an injury trailing 3-0 in the second.
In addition to Burns, who finished third, other L-L players winning matches in 2A singles were Lancaster Catholic’s Miles Durrett and Annville-Cleona’s Casey Hess.
Rabatin finished fourth in 3A singles to just miss out on a state berth. Also winning a match in 3A was Stefo Billis of Penn Manor.
In 2A doubles, Donegal’s Luke Yunginger and Evan Stehman also missed out on a state berth, finishing fourth. Lancaster Catholic’s Durrett and Ross Conway, and Lancaster Mennonite’s Tate Frailey and Reece Girdharry each won a match.
Rabatin and Davis were second in Class 3A doubles, falling 6-2, 6-4 to top-seeded Aidan and Tyler Mahaffey of Palmyra in the final. Ephrata’s Chase and Lance Wilson won their opening-round match.
In the league tournament, Abadir and Rabatin were singles champs while Abadir and Fred Bloom won 2A doubles, and Rabatin and Davis won 3A.
Penn Manor (Section One), Ephrata (Two) and Lancaster Catholic were the regular-season team winners.