Penn Manor’s Catherine Rabatin plays against Manheim Township’s Avery Palandjian during the Class 3A singles final of L-L Girls tennis flight championships at Cedar Crest high school in Lebanon Monday Oct. 11, 2021.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Manheim Township’s girls tennis team and Penn Manor senior Catherine Rabatin are hoping that adage holds true for them this season.

The Blue Streaks were 16-1 last year, storming through the Lancaster-Lebanon League and District Three Class 3A, before suffering their only loss in the first round of the PIAA tournament.

That capped a marvelous run under coach John Briner, who stepped down after last season with a four-year record of 63-4. His assistant, Carolyn Miller, takes over this season.

Along with another year and a change of coaches comes a change of players. Most notably is Avery Palandjian, who reached the L-L and district finals and advanced to the second round of states in a career marked by many successes, but graduated.

Another year for Rabatin means trying to go a perfect 4-0 in her career in L-L and district 3A championships. She has reached the PIAA semifinals all three years.

Here are five things to watch in L-L girls tennis this season.

More of the same?

Manheim Township won its seventh straight league title and sixth straight District Three Class 3A crown in 2021. The Streaks will try to add to those marks without Palandjian.

Senior Kayla Kurtz will be looked at to lead the Streaks after reaching the 3A semifinals in the L-L, where she lost to Palandjian, and District Three before losing in the first round at states. She and Palandjian won L-L Flight 1 doubles.

Junior Jade Miller also returns after winning L-L Flight Two singles.

“I’m very hopeful for this season,” said Miller in an email. “Although losing three varsity players, I’m gaining several freshman players with lots of potential. I’ve also seen great improvement with some of my returning players.”

Rabatin beat Palandjian for both the L-L and district 3A titles. After dropping a 6-1, 4-6, 10-1 decision to Palandjian during the regular season, she prevailed 6-4, 6-2 in the league final and 6-0, 2-6, 6-3 for the district title.

“She has been training and playing tournaments in the offseason to get her prepared for her final season with Penn Manor and set herself up for success at the collegiate level,” said Penn Manor coach Amanda Pryzbylkowski in an email.

Lancaster Catholic senior Anna Millen also hopes to follow suit after she repeated as the L-L and District Three Class 2A champion.

Others to watch

Right behind the Streaks in Section One was Hempfield (13-3), which lost close matches to Township in the regular season and L-L tournament. Township defeated the Knights 3-1 to win the L-L title.

Gone is No. 1 player Grace Lehman, who reached the L-L semifinals, but juniors Sophie Carson and Lydia Sullivan, and sophomore Alex Gregory return. Carson teamed with Lehman to finish second in Flight One doubles while Sullivan won Flight Two doubles and Gregory Flight Three singles.

Lancaster Country Day put together a solid campaign last year, going 11-5, 7-1 in Section Three, and advanced to the District Three 2A tournament. Maggie Auman, a senior this year, led the way.

Auman advanced to the L-L 2A semifinals as well as the district tournament, losing to the eventual runner-up in the first round.

She teamed with Sophia Babar, now a sophomore, to finish second in the L-L 2A doubles and earn a No. 2 seeding in the district tournament.

Elco’s Ali Bender returns after winning the Lebanon County title and was an L-L Section Three all-star after reaching the league’s Class 2A semifinals. She’s part of a Raiders team that returns its entire lineup, including Camryn Lehr, who teamed with Bender to advance to both the L-L and district 2A semifinals.

That’s new

Making its first appearance in the league will be Linden Hall. The Lady Lions were 6-7 last year under Steve Berkley, in his 15th year as head coach, and return three of their top five singles players in seniors Ava O’Brien, Mia Rossi and Melissa Figueroa.

Linden Hall will compete in the nine-team Section Three.

That’s special

Several teams will have some special events this season, with newcomer Linden Hall among them. The Lady Lions will open their season Aug. 26 in the “Play for the Cure” tournament at Phoenixville. The tournament raises money for the Phoenixville Hospital Cancer Center.

Conestoga Valley, under Dale Gregg, coaching in his 37th year, for the third year will collect old/practice tennis balls to recycle. Gregg’s program is one that is a no-cut team, “so introducing players to the lifetime sport of tennis continues to be a priority.” Gregg noted in an email. He has 37 players on this year’s team.

Another no-cut program is McCaskey, where coach Delaine Mast said she has her biggest turnout in years with 21 players.

It’s a date

Here are some important dates to note:

Monday — The first day of the regular season.

Aug. 29 — First league matches.

Sept. 29, Oct. 3 and 4 — L-L team tournament.

Oct. 6, 8 and 10 — L-L flight tournament.

Oct. 14-15 — District Three singles.

Oct. 21-22 — District Three doubles.

Oct. 25, 28 and 29 — PIAA team tournament.

Oct. 4 and 5 — PIAA singles and doubles tournament.

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