By JEFF KERR
HERSHEY - Making its first PIAA tournament appearance in two years, West Chester Henderson played composed and confident.
The young squad was ready for the moment. Perhaps the post-game visit to Hershey's Chocolate World was on their minds.
Fortunately, W.C. Henderson got to celebrate a victory upon their arrival at Chocolate World as they defeated Manheim Township 3-0 in the first round of the PIAA Championships at Hershey Racquet Club Monday afternoon. The Warriors advanced to the state quarterfinals with the win.
The Warriors dominated the match from start to finish as they eliminated the District 3 champions in less than an hour. Head coach Peter Sok thinks his girls are playing their best tennis at the right time of the season.
"The girls have gotten better and are beginning to gel as a team,' Sok said. "They're peaking at the right time, which is crucial for this type of tournament. I'm pretty happy with that.'
Katie Gergel got Henderson, District 1's fourth-place representative in the tournament, its first win of the day. Gergel took advantage of mistakes by Doris Simic and defeated her 6-3, 6-0 in No. 3 singles.
"(Doris) had a lot of really hard shots, but I forced her to make the mistakes before I could make them,'Gergel said. "I tried to stay in the point as much as I could.'
Soon after Gergel defeated Simic, Emma Clark used her finesse game to defeat Emily Mann 6-1, 6-3 in the No. 1 singles match. Clark, a freshman playing in her first PIAA match, had the composure of a senior in frustrating Mann with her return game.
"(Emily) was really consistent with her shot throughout (the match),'Clark said. "I just had to get everything back when we had some long points and put away the short ball.'
A few minutes later, the No. 1 doubles team of Amanda Baxter and Julianne Rodgers clinched the match for Henderson with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Addy Deery and Katie Cory. The reliable pair gave the Warriors future dates to "The Sweetest Place on Earth.' The remainder of the PIAA Championships takes place at Hershey Racquet Club Friday and Saturday.
"It's an honor to be playing here (in Hershey), Rodgers said. "We are definitely trying to work hard and get as far as we can. It's like a bonus being here.'
Henderson will take on the winner of the DuBois-Holidaysburg match Friday at 6:30 p.m.in the nightcap of the quarterfinals. The Warriors will look to continue their surprising run into Saturday.
"When these girls walk in here, they knew if they could compete with some of the top teams in our district, they believed they could do it here as well,' Sok said. "We're hoping to build on this exposure of being in the state tournament. Our goal is to do anything we can to be successful with this opportunity.'
West Chester Henderson 3, Manheim Township 0
1.Clark (WCH) def. E. Mann 6-1, 6-3; 2. Couderc (WCH) led Murphy 7-5; 3. Gergel (WCH) def. Simic 6-3, 6-0.
1. Baxter-Rodgers (WCH) def. Deery-Cory 6-3, 6-1; 2. Gasho-Jones (WCH) tied with C. Mann-Brown 6-2, 3-6.