HERSHEY — Lancaster Country Day's bid for its first PIAA team tennis title fell one step short Saturday afternoon at Hershey Racquet Club.
The Cougars fell into the path of defending Class 2A state champion Sewickley Academy, which had everyone back from last season's title-winners. The result was a swift verdict. Sewickley defeated LCD, 5-0, in just over one hour, to repeat as state champions.
Lancaster Country Day defeated Wyoming Seminary, 4-0, in the semifinals earlier Saturday at HRC, with all courts, save top singles, clocking decisive wins.
But that momentum did not carry over into the title match against the battle-hardened SA Panthers.
"First of all, we knew that Sewickley had a strong program, that they had strong players," second-year LCD boys' coach Kit Fuderich said. "This was a year for us to grow. And my players have certainly grown a lot since the beginning of the season.
"Being here at states was a bonus. It's been a privilege to play a team such as Sewickley."
Sewickley reached the finals by beating fellow small school power Wyomissing, 5-0.
Sewickley clinched the title match at No. 2 singles, when Sam Sauter defeated George Markley, 6-0, 6-3. The Saint Joseph's University-bound Sauter — who would be top player on just about every other squad in the state — ripped through the first set with Markley. LCD's No. 2 responded with a hold and a break to cut his second set deficit to 4-3, but Sauter returned fire to close it out.
It was the final's most competitive match, a contest that featured a pair of unbeaten squads. LCD won the District Three team crown and was 12-0 during the regular season; Sewickley did the same in District Seven and was 15-0 during its scheduled slate.
Luke Ross, one of the favorites at next weekend's singles tournament, beat LCD freshman Jonah Rebert, 6-0, 6-0, at No. 1 singles, the first team point clinched during the finals. The second doubles tandem of Dylan Parda and Neil Rana upended David del Terzo and Thomas Westbrook 6-0, 6-1 to give Sewickley a 2-0 advantage.
After Sauter's clincher, the other two courts were permitted to finish. Arjan Bedi and Will Nocito defeated Carter Auman and Herbert Bryner 6-2, 6-1; the match concluded with Sewickley's Ryan Gex taking out LCD's Drew Kopan 6-1, 6-1 at third singles, the last finals match to get underway.