BOYS TENNIS: Elco headed to states — again
HERSHEY >> Despite consistent success over the years, the Elco boys' tennis team's bandwagon still has plenty of good seats available.
Although one would think that a few more spots will be snapped up after the Raiders' most recent accomplishment.
For the third straight year, Elco is headed for the PIAA Class AA state tournament, courtesy of Thursday's 3-1 win against York Suburban in the District Three AA third-place match at Hershey Racquet Club.
Now 13-3 and bound for Tuesday's state opener against the District Six champion, the Raiders assured themselves of a return to the promised land when senior Adam Bahney clinched the win with an up-and-down three-set triumph over Elliot Diehl at No.1 singles.
Bahney was put into position to notch the decisive victory by super steady Galen McNaughton's straight-set victory at No. 2 singles and newly-formed No. 2 doubles tandem Christian Stahl and Dawson Smith, who picked up a key win at No. 2 doubles.
"For being a little school out in the middle of some fields, it's pretty great to have such a good tennis team," Bahney said, moments after his 6-1, 6-7 (5-7), 6-0 victory. "It speaks amazing of the school to have a senior class of 156 kids and be able to go to states the last three years."
Elco coach Zach Cook, who's overseen the Raiders' development into a perennial postseason force, echoed Bahney's sentiments.
"I certainly hope that Elco tennis is not looked upon anymore as kind of a backwater program," Cook said. "It seems like we don't get a lot of respect. We're a smaller sport, and I swear to goodness, so many people didn't even realize we'd been to states the past two years. It's like, 'Oh, you guys are good?'
"So it's nice to do this again, and I hope we can continue that success and maybe get more kids joining. It's tougher and tougher to get kids out, and I don't know why. There's no bandwagon at Elco, not for tennis."
Though small in roster numbers, Elco had everything it needed on Thursday while bouncing back from Wednesday's semifinal loss to Lancaster Country Day.
In addition to Bahney's clincher, McNaughton took care of Michael Peck, 6-1, 6-2, while freshman Smith and junior Stahl posted a 6-3, 7-6 (7-1) win.
And Elco gave a good account of itself in the matches it didn't win, too.
Dylan Spitler dropped a 6-2, 4-6, 1-6 decision to Ben Strine at No.3 singles and No.1 doubles brother duo of Linden and Mason Bennetch were in the third set at No.1 doubles when Bahney's win halted the match.
"This was far from an easy match," Cook said. "York Suburban is a tough team, and overcoming adversity in this match speaks well of what we can do in the future still."
Bahney, worn down a bit by high-level district singles play earlier in the week, overcame the most adversity in his seesaw win over tough customer Diehl.
"I definitely let down a little in the second set, I'd say," Bahney noted. "I got a little nervous as the second set went on, and I was honestly just thinking I'd like to get into the third set so I could relax and start playing my game again."
He did, closing out the match 6-0 with his trusty serve and volley game to send the Raiders to states — again.
"It certainly means a lot to us, and it certainly means a ton to the kids," Cook said. "They're so psyched to be going to states for the third year in a row. They're very excited."
Elco 3, York Suburban 1 at Hershey Racquet Club
Singles— 1. Adam Bahney (E) def. Elliot Diehl, 6-1, 6-7 (5-7), 6-0, 2. Galen McNaughton (E) def. Michael Peck, 6-1, 6-2, 3. Ben Strine (YS) def. Dylan Spitler, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1
Doubles — Daniel Lee/Tyr Abendschoen (YS) vs. Linden Bennetch/Mason Bennetch, 6-3, 6-7 (1-7), 1-1, suspended, 2. Christian Stahl/Dawson Smith (E) def. Cooper Landol/Jacob Arbetman, 6-3, 7-6 (7-1)