“They are the team to beat.”
With seven straight Lancaster-Lebanon League girls tennis championships, it’s not surprising that Hempfield coach Mindy Bell would say that heading into Monday’s match against Manheim Township.
After all, the teams finished with a combined 29-5 record last year, with the Blue Streaks going undefeated until losing in the first round of the state tournament, and winning their sixth straight District Three Class 3A title, in addition to the L-L crown.
Perhaps the Black Knights will be the team to beat the Streaks this season.
Two of Hempfield’s four losses last year were to Township, including a tight 3-1 setback in the L-L final and an even closer 3-2 loss to Cumberland Valley in districts; Cumberland Valley went on to lose by the same score to the Streaks in the district final.
“Our team is looking forward to the Township match,” said Bell in an email, “since it has been extremely competitive in recent years.”
Both teams lost some key players, but also have a number back from last year. It’s still early in the season, but both enter Monday’s match undefeated and tied for the section lead at 2-0. Township is 3-0 overall and Hempfield 5-0.
There are no common opponents to help gauge the match. The Streaks’ section wins are 4-0 over Conestoga Valley and 5-2 over Penn Manor. Hempfield has a 7-0 win over McCaskey, plus a 3-2 nonleague win over perennial power Dallastown, which Township beat 3-1 in last year’s district semifinals.
“Hempfield is always good competition for us,” said Township first-year coach Carolyn Miller in an email. “My girls have been working hard at practices and looking forward to our matchup on Monday.”
Individually, Kayla Kurtz is 1-1 at No. 1 for Township, falling on Thursday to defending L-L 3A champion Catherine Rabatin of Penn Manor — her match against Conestoga Valley wasn’t completed. Kurtz finished third in both the L-L and district last year. She lost to the eventual champ in the first round of states.
Penn Manor coach Amanda Przybylkowski said that Kurtz’s 6-1, 6-0 loss to Rabatin was misleading. “Kayla is a phenomenal baseliner and was playing around with varying the pace and depth of her shots,” said Przybylkowski, “but Catherine was able to take control of a lot of the points by setting up patterns and sequences to move Kayla around the court.”
Haley Miller and Jade Miller are a combined 5-0 for the Streaks.
Alex Gregory and Lydia Sullivan are each 5-0 for Hempfield, which has 7-0 wins over McCaskey and Cedar Crest in the section.
“It’s going to be important for us to win a few of the doubles courts so we have been focusing on doubles the past couple weeks,” said Bell.
“I know some of their players so we should have some very good matches with them,” said Miller.
More of the same
Penn Manor’s Rabatin has been the cream of the crop since her freshman year, and the senior is showing no signs of letting up.
“She’s playing smarter and with more intensity than last season,” Przybylkowski said in an email. “She’s worked hard in the offseason and has continued to play higher level tournaments to stay at the top of her game to finish out her high school tennis career.”
In addition to the win over Kurtz, Rabatin has only lost one other game this season.
In the Comets’ match against Lampeter-Strasburg, Rabatin did not play. Was she ill or injured?
“Her missed match was because she was at the U.S. Open for the day!” said Przybylkowski.
Section Two glance
There are three teams off to fast starts.
Manheim Central is the only undefeated team at 7-0, but with just one section match so far. That was against another of the top contenders, Lampeter-Strasburg, which the Barons knocked off Thursday 6-1. Brianna Mylin, playing mainly at No. 3 singles, is 6-0 for Central.
Technically leading the section is Elizabethtown at 2-0. The Bears are 5-1 overall. They play the Pioneers Sept. 19 and the Barons Sept. 26.
L-S, at 6-1, has only the loss to Central and is 1-1 in the section. No. 1 player Kylie Gerhardt is 6-0.
Section Three glance
Two teams get the early attention: Elco and Lancaster Country Day. Both are 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the section.
The Raiders’ Ali Bender and Kamryn Lehr are both 3-0 in singles.
For the Cougars, Maggie Auman and Sienna Castelli are 3-0.
Lancaster Mennonite is also 1-0 in the section, but 1-3 overall.
• Sports staffer Philip Glatfelter covers Lancaster-Lebanon League tennis for LNP. Email him at email@example.com.