HERSHEY >> Elco's Adam Bahney didn't come into the District Three boys' tennis tournament with any preconceived notion of glory.
Having been bounced by Lancaster Country Day's Blaise Casselbury and Wyomissing's Ricardo Saad in the quarterfinals in two prior appearances, Bahney was just looking to advance that extra step up the ladder.
He got it — at the expense of Saad's younger brother.
Elco's No. 1 dispatched the district's No. 3 seed, Rodrigo Saad, in straight sets — one surprisingly mundane, the second a tussle — Saturday at Hershey Racquet Club to reach the Class AA semifinals on Monday, back at HRC, at noon. He'll play another Spartan, Andre Fick, in one semifinal, while antagonist Casselbury will oppose LCD teammate Sebastian Pena in the other.
In other matches, Elco No. 2 Galen McNaughton survived a marathon opening match against Berks Catholic's Ross Pilliod before falling to Fick in the quarterfinals, while Cedar Crest's Colin Muraika, Class AAA's top seed, beat South Western's Quin Meyer handily before turning away Jonah Buczewski of Exeter to reach the AAA semis.
Muraika will play Warwick's Tony Deimler on Monday, with Exeter's Nolan Perugini squaring off against Derek Hagino, the bracket's second seed out of Hempfield in the other AAA semifinal.
Bahney's 6-2, 7-6 (4) victory against Saad was one part fire, one part ice.
In the first set, Bahney was a shot-hitting machine, seemingly placing the tennis ball at will where he needed it to go. During the second set, when Saad — a Wyo program legacy who wasn't going to roll over — inevitably climbed back into the match, Bahney stayed cool on the court as he battled back from 4-5 and 5-6 to force the tiebreaker, which he won 7-4 when Saad put a baseline forehand softly into the net.
"Coming in, I almost knew I was going to play him, even if I got the seed I wanted," Bahney, who was unseeded, said of Saad. "Really, just training before this and all the months and hours I put in, this was the match. I knew I was gonna play Rodrigo. I came out and did what I had to do and played really well.
"I was serving well coming into the (Saad) match, but my ground game didn't feel that great. I came out and then everything was working, forehand, backhand. A lot of stuff was working for me and it caught me off guard how well it was working. I've worked my entire life to get to this point, so let's see if I can keep it going."
Earlier in the day, Bahney made quick work of York Suburban's Michael Peck 6-0, 6-0 in 28 minutes to set up the quarterfinal meeting with Saad.
McNaughton's journey was draining. A three-setter against Pilliod ended in a 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 triumph but took better than 2 1/2 hours to play. Included was a second set loss that seemingly had endless deuce points as McNaughton tried to close out his opponent in straight sets. He fell short but rebounded nicely to take the deciding third set, only to find the tank on empty with Fick waiting.
"I tried to rebound in the third set by thinking back to what I was doing right in the first set," McNaughton said. "Be aggressive, take short balls to his backhand. I was doing that in the first set but definitely wasn't doing that in the second set.
"It's incredibly draining to your legs, and mentally, too. Trying to stay focused, it takes a lot out of you. I just tried to move my feet and stay positive."
Following a relatively short break, given how long McNaughton had been on the court during his opening match, Fick bageled him 6-0, 6-0 in the quarters.
"There were a few games I had him 40-15 and had few deuce games, maybe if I could have held I could have pulled a few games out," McNaughton said. "But we'll never know."
Muraika's day started business-as-usual with his 6-1, 6-1 rejection of Meyer in the AAA opening round. He drew Buczewski in the quarters and raced out to a 6-0 first-set win before tailing off in the second.
Crest's star held off Buczewski 6-4 in the second, rallying from 0-3, to reach the semis.
"Jonah's a really consistent player, and I got a little complacent," Muraika admitted, "which is something you can't do. I said, 'OK, I'm in the driver's seat here' and I started to slack off a bit with my feet and relaxed.
"It's something you can't do in a match, and especially against a really good player. Once I snapped out of it, I got the job done."