Elco s Maddie Shaak has now won three consecutive Lebanon County singles titles after her straight-set victory over Cedar Crest s Catherine Bond on
Elco s Maddie Shaak has now won three consecutive Lebanon County singles titles after her straight-set victory over Cedar Crest s Catherine Bond on Saturday in South Lebanon. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS EARL BRIGHTBILL)
When it comes to the Lebanon County Girls' Tennis Tournament, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

And, well, Elco standout Maddie Shaak and perennial county champion Cedar Crest are perfectly fine with that. You know what they say about Lebanon Countians and their resistance to change.

On a warm, breezy day at Cedar Crest on Saturday, no winds of change blew through South Lebanon, as Shaak snared her third straight county singles title and the host Falcons captured their second straight team crown and ninth in the last 10 years with a narrow victory over Shaak and Elco.

The closeness of the team competition - Crest totaled eight team points, compared to six for Elco and four for Palmyra - stood in stark contrast to Shaak's easy romp to a singles three-peat.

The Elco senior, who nearly missed her shot at a third county crown after tearing her left ACL in a skiing accident in February, drew a first-round bye before dispatching both Annville-Cleona's Amalia Hartman and Cedar Crest's Catherine Bond by 6-0, 6-0 scores in the semifinals and finals.

Shaak's smooth, often-flawless baseline game was in top form against both Hartman and Bond, providing a perfect and appropriate conclusion to her county tournament career.

"It's so great," said a beaming Shaak of what her last county title meant to her. "I was so happy after that last point, because I knew it was my last time ever playing (in the county finals) at Cedar Crest. It kinda makes me sad, too, but I really wanted this.

"When I tore my ACL, the first thing I thought about was tennis season. I'm just thankful my knee held up and I could do my thing."

Shaak and her Raider teammates nearly had a team championship to celebrate thanks to Kristi Fidler's equally impressive run to the Flight Two singles crown, which came courtesy of a tight 6-4, 6-4 semifinal win over Crest's Madeleine Overholt and a 6-0, 6-0 finals triumph over Annville-Cleona's Morgan Acker.

But Bond's berth in the Flight One singles final and a sweep of the doubles competitions, thanks to Madison Fortna and Jolie Zinn and Andrea and Rachel Smith, pushed the Falcons back into the top spot for another year.

"I knew it was gonna be a struggle, there's good strength in the county this year," Cedar Crest coach Gila Hodge said. "I just wanted them to bring their best game, which is what the girls did. There were a lot of nerves, but they were on their games, especially in doubles."

The Falcons did indeed excel in doubles, barely being tested on the way to the sweep.

At Flight One, Fortna and Zinn, after being handed a first-round default win, rolled through the semifinals and finals by dropping just two total games in the eight-game pro set format.

The Cedar Crest girls  tennis team captured its ninth title in 10 years with a narrow two-point victory over Elco on Saturday on the Falcons  home courts.
The Cedar Crest girls tennis team captured its ninth title in 10 years with a narrow two-point victory over Elco on Saturday on the Falcons home courts. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS EARL BRIGHTBILL)

The two secured the title with a dominating 8-0 championship match victory over Palmyra's Lauren Hollowell and Natalie Haldeman.

Meanwhile, the Smiths had a little tougher time in taking the Flight Two bracket, but were just as successful nonetheless.

First came an 8-2 opening-round win over Keanna Lasher and Emma Lerchen of Annville-Cleona, then a narrow 8-6 victory over Sydney Nye and Hannah Kercher of Elco in the semis.

The finals provided the toughest test, as Palmyra's Katie Gundermann and Lexi Kline stormed out to a 4-1 lead, only to see the Smiths roar back to win by an 8-5 count.

The Flight One singles final wasn't nearly as competitive, thanks to Shaak's aforementioned steadiness from the baseline that kept Bond from ever mounting a serious challenge.

Shaak's high level of play not only put her at the top of the county mountain for a third time, it also gave her an additional honor to hold over the heads of older siblings Bekki and Fred. Both elder Shaaks also appeared in county singles finals during their scholastic careers but were never able to taste championship victory.

And, well, their young sister is only too happy to remind them of that fact via some good-natured ribbing.

"It's kinda funny, but they don't find it funny," Maddie said with a grin. "It makes it so much sweeter that I have that over them, because I don't have much."