Manheim Township girls tennis

The Manheim Township girls tennis team shows off its latest trophy at Hershey Racquet Club on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, after winning its sixth straight District Three Class 3A championship.

HERSHEY — Hers was the last match to finish, and the deciding one. All eyes were upon her.

Not exactly a comfort zone for Jade Miller.

But Manheim Township’s No. 3 singles player showed little sign that she felt the pressure Wednesday at Hershey Racquet Club, winning her match 6-1, 6-3 to give the Streaks a 3-2 win over Cumberland Valley in the Class 3A final of the District Three Girls Tennis Team Championships.

The title was the sixth straight for Township, which is 16-0 this season and will look to add to the win total when the PIAA tournament gets underway Tuesday. The Streaks will be the home team at Hershey Racquet Club, with the opponent to be determined.

“Yes!” was the short answer Miller gave when asked whether she was nervous during the match. “I think I played a lot better than I normally do today. And it was the deciding match, so I had to play my best.

“I’ve been working on my forehand a lot and I think I really have improved it over the season, and I think it really paid off.”

Head coach John Briner said the Streaks could count on wins at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, which they got courtesy of Avery Palandjian and Kayla Kurtz. That left it up to Miller’s No. 3 singles and the two doubles matches. With Cumberland Valley taking fairly quick wins in doubles, everyone turned their attention to Miller and Cumberland Valley’s Ashley Ross, who played under that scrutiny for about a half-hour.

“She doesn’t like all the people on top of her, focusing on her match, knowing she’s got to pull it off,” Briner said of the fans who stood in the main concourse and watched the matches below. “That’s a lot of pressure on a kid. So we kind of scattered our girls up top here — they were cheering from where they were, but just not focus all the pressure on her right there.”

While the match marked a sixth straight crown for Township, it also held significance for Briner and Palandjian. Both were part of the last four, and Briner has yet to lose a match as head coach of the Streaks during the regular season and district playoffs.

“This is a big one for me, just to keep that streak going,” Briner said. “Township is known for having good tennis and you make it to the finals — it stings to lose in the finals. … So we just came out here and gave it our all.”

“Four for four; it’s great,” said Palandjian, who will be playing in the state singles tournament Nov. 5-6, along with Kurtz, in addition to the team tournament. “It’s actually a super-cool thing to be a part of. In previous years, it was great to win; we had a deep team. This year, we didn’t know what was going to happen. We didn’t even know if we’d make it to districts. So it was really great to see everyone come together to be able to win this.”

Palandjian’s match ended before any other and Kurtz was close behind, both winning 6-1, 6-0. That gave them plenty of time to view the proceedings.

“I know she doesn’t like a lot of people to watch and everyone was watching today,” Palandjian said of Miller’s match. “And I was a little nervous watching myself.”

Varnika Udhayakumar and Megha Lomada won 6-0, 6-1 at No. 1 doubles for Cumberland Valley, and Rochelle Kruelski and Johnavi Kotapati were 6-3, 6-1 winners at No. 2.

Earlier at Hershey Racquet Club, Conrad Weiser defeated Wyomissing 3-1 for the 2A title. All four teams at HRC had already qualified for states.

At Racquet Club West, New Oxford defeated Dallastown in the Class 3A third-place match and Trinity beat Kennard-Dale in 2A, both by 3-2 scores, to secure the final state playoff spots.

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