Round 2 between The Haverford School and Episcopal Academy on the tennis court began last Thursday, didn't conclude until Monday and featured the kind of quality and intensity you'd expect from these two Inter-Ac League rivals.
When darkness fell April 24, the teams were knotted at 3-3 and the Churchmen's No. 1 singles player Max Kane led his friend and rival, Zach Lieb, 2-1 in the third set.
The match was tied in large part because Episcopal's fourth doubles team of Callan O'Rourke and Woody Nimoityn had fought off five match points in the second set to claim a dramatic 2-6, 7-6, 6-4 victory over Gage Bowser and Jackson Simon.
Earlier this season, Episcopal had defeated Haverford School, 4-3, to snap the Fords' remarkable 49-match Inter-Ac win streak. So there was a lot at stake when Kane and Lieb returned to the court Monday to decide the rematch.
"We were both pretty tight,' Kane said this week as he relived the match. "My teammates and some of our teachers were there, so it was nice to have that support. Both teams wanted it so badly.'
It was the fifth time Kane and Zach Lieb have met in their scholastic careers. Kane owns one win at last year's Inter-Ac Tournament. Neither player is surprising his opponent at this point.
"He got the key break to go up 4-3 and won the third set, 6-4,' said Kane, who will continue his tennis and academic careers at Bucknell. "We beat them the first time and this match was so close. Our first doubles was up 4-1 in the third and Haverford came back and won, but all the matches were like that with people battling back.'
The final tally at No. 1 singles was 6-3, 7-6, 6-4 in favor of Zach Lieb. Zach's twin brother Ben — the Lieb twins have been money in the bank for the Fords at first and second singles — won his match, 6-3, 6-0, over talented Episcopal freshman Tristan McCormick. Senior Ethan Markman got another point for EA at third singles.
Three of the four doubles matches went to three sets, including the rally by the Fords' Nathan Kidami and Andrew Gushner at first doubles and the tremendous comeback by the Churchmen's O'Rourke and Nimoityn at fourth doubles.
What has made the season especially rewarding for Kane is that the team is dominated by seniors who have worked hard through the years and wanted their final season to be one to remember. In addition to Kane and Markman, Patrick Espe and Rohan Rajagopalan, who teamed at first doubles against Haverford School, are seniors, as are the pair that makes up second doubles, Ayo Maja and Matt Robinson, and Brendan DeVoue, who teamed with freshman Philip Tobar at third doubles against the Fords.
"Our seniors are all smart guys and it's just a really good feeling because we've worked hard to have a good senior season,' Kane said. "You know you can count on these guys to get the job done.'
Following the loss to Haverford School, Episcopal stood at 4-1 in the Inter-Ac and 9-1 overall. There's a pretty good chance the two teams will win out and share the Inter-Ac title. There's also a good chance the finals at the Inter-Ac Tournament May 13 will look a lot like a Haverford-EA dual match.
The two schools are rivals every time they compete in anything. When the two teams are as talented and experienced as these tennis teams are, the intensity is ramped up even more.
"We'll probably share the title,' Kane said. "We're pretty confident we can win the tournament. That would make it a pretty good spring.''
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The District One website was a little slow on the draw for Day 2 of the district singles tournament last weekend, so the Daily Times never reported the progress of Haverford's Nate Frank, who had reached the quarterfinals in Class AAA with two wins on Day 1.
Frank was knocked out in the quarters, 6-4, 6-3, by Downingtown East's Michael Dickson.
The Central League will be represented in the district final as Conestoga's Brian Grodecki, the Central singles champion, got past Pennsbury's Blake Illes, 7-5, 6-1, in the one semifinal. Unionville's Johnny Wu, the top seed, defeated Dickson, 6-3, 6-0, in the other semifinal.
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Bonner-Prendie will send out the same girls four-with boat that claimed a strong victory over Archbishop Carroll in the Catholic League Championships last week onto the Schuylkill River in the City Championships Sunday morning.
Coxswain Alina Wesolowski was not mentioned in the story on Bonner-Prendie's top boat in last week's notebook, but she, along with Emily Sheetz, the Savage sisters, Anna and Claire, and Victoria Brooks, will battle it out in a field of 24 boats Sunday.
A series of time trials will narrow the field to a six-boat final race.
Bonner-Prendie will also send out a novice eight-with boat, also coming off a victory against Carroll last weekend, and a JV four-with boat Sunday.
Carroll did come out of last week's Catholic races with a gold by beating Bonner-Prendie in the varsity eight race
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A couple of trends continued on the Inter-Ac League girls golf scene: Strong play by reigning individual champion Kaitlyn Lees, an eighth-grader at Agnes Irwin, and strong play four-time defending Inter-Ac team champion Notre Dame.
In Agnes Irwin's 246-315 victory Monday over Springside Chestnut Hill, Lees fired a 4-over 39 at Philadelphia Country Club, which is the Owls' home course and Lees' home course. The other Agnes Irwin scores that counted were a 46 by Meghan Brennan, a 51 by Kimmy Sanna, a 54 by Prianka Bedi and a 56 by Sara Bastian.
That same day, Notre Dame lowered its school record for the second straight outing in a 206-225 victory over Episcopal Academy. The Irish had put up a 219 last week in a victory over Baldwin School on Merion Golf Club's West Course, then bettered that total by a whopping 13 shots on their home course at Overbrook Golf Club.
Seniors Coryn Mullen and Grace Desjardins led the way with each carding a 40.
Notre Dame improved to 5-0 in Inter-Ac play Thursday with a 219-275 victory over Baldwin School at Philadelphia Country Club. This time the Irish were led by one of their underclassmen as Meghan Fahey fired a 40.
To contact Tom McNichol, email email@example.com.