All the emotions of the past week bubbled up and over for James Buchanan tennis coach Terri Beegle in an instant.
Her Rockets, seeded fifth, had just concluded a 4-1 win over No. 4 Donegal in the quarterfinal round of the District 3 Class AA team tennis playoffs Friday at Hershey Racquet Club. Beegle burst into tears the moment it was over.
It was the first-ever district team tennis win for Beegle – more than enough validation for the waterworks faucet to suddenly turn on. But this went deeper. And was much more complex.
Last Saturday, the boys she just witnessed take down Donegal at HRC showed maturity and compassion beyond their tender years when they voted down their berth in the Mid Penn Conference championships to attend the funeral of classmate Violet Clark.
In short, these were tears of a pride extending way beyond just tennis – it was an expression in the way her boys conducted themselves on and off the court during a trying week, the kind of week no kid should have to endure. And Beegle just couldn’t hold back any longer. After the match with Donegal, the entire team congregated on Court 4 at HRC for a photo, with Beegle perched atop the umpire chair.
“This was for Violet,” is all Beegle could sputter out moments later before breaking down again.
“Great kids," Beegle said. "Greats kids in our school. Great student-athletes. They were on a mission. They’ll take on anybody. They’re a working-class group of guys. We pick up our racket and play and we play hard. These guys. I am just honored to coach them. I love these guys like they were my own sons.”
Buchanan’s lunch-pail approach against Donegal was evident from the start. While Chance Wishard struggled against the Indians’ Noah Zern at No. 1 singles (a 6-1, 6-3 loss), the rest of the squad dug in and picked him up.
Isaac Shenton and Hunter Showers, at second and third singles, respectively, each captured their matches in straight sets - and both won second set tiebreakers to do so. Shenton defeated Andrew Ashley 6-3, 7-6(2) and Sowers took down Austin Stehman 6-1, 7-6(4). Sowers’ triumph was Buchanan’s third of the day and clinched the match.
A sweep of the doubles courts enabled the Rockets to take a 2-1 lead and set the stage for Sowers’ clincher. Josh Summers and Micah Wise prevailed over Donegal’s Aaron Stehman and Matt Daly 6-4, 6-2, while Jalen Ayers and Luke Leidy repelled Peter Brubaker and Peter Garner 6-2, 6-1.
“Doubles teams played lights out,” Beegle said. “They came up big. We knew that for us to win, they were gonna have to come up big. And we had to steal one at two or three (singles). And we won both of them.”
James Buchanan (14-4) draws AA monster and No. 1 seed Wyomissing (12-0) in the semifinals on Wednesday at 2 p.m. at HRC.
But in a sense that doesn’t even matter. The season has already been won. In so many ways.
“It’s a statement. I’m still in shock,” Beegle said. “I’m so proud. They have so much heart ... this was our Mid Penns.”
District 3 Team Tournament
James Buchanan 4, Donegal 1
At Hershey Racquet Club
Singles — Noah Zern (D) def. Chance Wishard, 6-1, 6-3. Isaac Shenton (JB) def. Andrew Ashley, 6-3, 7-6 (2). Hunter Sowers (JB) def. Austin Stehman, 6-1, 7-6 (4).
Doubles — Josh Summers-Micah Wise (JB) def. Aaron Stehman-Matt Daly, 6-4, 6-2. Jalen Ayers-Luke Leidy (JB) def. Peter Brubaker-Peter Carner, 6-2, 6-1.
Other quarterfinal results — Wyomissing 5, York Catholic 0; Lancaster Country Day 3, East Pennsboro 2; Lancaster Mennonite 4, Fleetwood 1.