Lancaster Catholic’s Anna Millen and Penn Manor’s Catherine Rabatin both won district gold medals Thursday afternoon. But the route each took on the tennis courts at Hempfield Rec Center to earn those prizes was vastly different.
Rabatin, a sophomore, made it back-to-back District Three Class 3A girls tennis titles by making quick work of Carlisle’s Sarah Guistwite in a repeat of last year’s final.
Rabatin was dominant, winning 6-1, 6-0, with the lone blemish coming in the third game of the first set.
Millen, meanwhile, took more than two hours to outlast Berks Catholic’s Rebekah Schnatz, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, in the Class 2A championship.
“I thought I played really well,” said Rabatin, the top seed, who beat Guistwite 6-1, 6-1 last year. “I got into a good rhythm and I got ahead quick so that helped me.”
Rabatin is unbeaten this season and has only dropped one set. She advances to the PIAA Tournament, where she will play the District Two champion on Nov. 4.
A year ago, Rabatin finished fourth at states as a freshman, but intially had some anxiety this time around.
“It was scary at the beginning of the season because, of course, I really wanted to play,” Rabatin said of the uncertainty heading into this season. “I know I could do better this year —maybe win states — so I was really excited that we were able to play.”
As Rabatin was collecting her gold medal, Millen was still in early stages of what turned out to be a three-set thriller.
Millen, also a sophomore, trailed 4-3 before winning the final three games to claim the first set, 6-4. Down 4-2 in the second, Millen, the tournament’s fourth seed, made it 5-4, but Schnatz went on to even the match and force the third set.
AA champ Anna Millen and AAA champ Catherine Rabatin. pic.twitter.com/98A9n7vrdo— Joel Schreiner (@JoelSchreiner) October 21, 2020
“I really didn’t have any faith in myself at the beginning of the third set,” Millen admitted. “I was tired. I was crying and I really didn’t have much hope for winning.”
And as Schnatz broke Millen to open the final set and worked her way to a 3-1 advantage, Millen’s outlook appeared even worse. But then something shifted.
“After a while, it clicked that this was really important to me and I needed to start trying,” Millen said.
And try, she did.
Down 4-2, Millen rallied back to 4-4, but lost momentum when Schnatz broke serve for a 5-4 lead. Millen, though, answered with a break of her own, making it 5-5.
In the next game, Millen got down 40-love, but fought off three break points and held serve for a 6-5 advantage. She then broke Schnatz’s serve again to claim the title.
“I’m so excited,” Millen said. “I get to tell all my friends at school.”
And, like Rabatin, she also gets to advance to the PIAA Tournament, where she will play the District 12 champ in the opening round on Nov. 2.