BOYS TENNIS: Elco's Bahney, McNaughton reach district semifinals
HERSHEY>> Once some first-set cobwebs cleared out, Adam Bahney and Galen McNaughton attacked the courts at Hershey Racquet Club Friday like the top seeds they are.
Elco's duo roared into Saturday's final two rounds of the District 3 Class AA doubles tournament playing perhaps their best tandem tennis of the season in dispatching challenges from Wyomissing and York Catholic to reach the semifinals.
Bahney and McNaughton will play Fleetwood's Tom Paganelli and Cristen Melendez in one AA semifinal Saturday; Wyomissing's Dan Trifoi and Alphonse Bongbong draw Lancaster Country Day's Sebastian Pena and Drew Kopan in the other. Match times are slated for 1 p.m. at HRC.
Saturday's other local pairing, Cedar Crest's Nick Tull and Marko Resetar, won their first match in the AAA bracket before bowing out in the quarterfinals against the difficult Manheim Twp. tandem of Griffin Clark and Dan Ansel by a 6-2, 7-5 score.
Elco's pair did not start ablaze on Friday, partially their own doing and partially a hat tip to the pair they faced in the opening round — Wyomissing's three and four players, Pat White and Zach Miller.
Wyo's understudies made life tough for Bahney and McNaughton for seven games, trailing 4-3 late in the first set, before a service break ignited the favorites and paved the path to a first-set win. Elco moved into the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-1 win.
"I think closing out at the net was a big thing, and we were a little slow at the beginning, but then we loosened up," McNaughton said. "And senior-year jitters, to be honest. Once I started to hit out instead of pushing the ball over and tried to hit through the ball and make sure it gets deep, it clicked."
And once it clicked, there was no stopping it. Bahney and McNaughton played with verve, aggression and even a touch of confident abandon befitting a top seeding. They polished off York Catholic's Michael Andrews and Scott Bartkowiak in the quarterfinal in a jiffy 35 minutes, 6-0, 6-0.
There may be a bit added pressure as the ones who have the bulls' eyes on their backs, but the seasoned duo is not letting it get to them.
"Usually there is some added pressure being a top seed heading into a tournament," Bahney said, "but for some reason I haven't really felt it this doubles tournament. Felt pretty relaxed; that first set (of first match) was a little off, just kind of getting warmed up. I think we are definitely playing comfortably on the court, and I know that if we play our game we can get the result we want.
"I think our mobility was the big thing. Moving at the net, explosive serves, talking to each other, things like that."
In AAA, Tull and Resetar notched a long, expansive 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-4 verdict over Governor Mifflin's Quentin Smith and Red Hoff in a first-round match that ended after a couple of second-rounders. That earned the Cedar Crest duo a meeting with Clark and Ansel, the No. 2 seed in AAA behind Exeter's Jonah Buczewski and Todd Weiner.
Tull and Resetar fought for every point before bowing out 6-2, 7-5 in the quarterfinal. It was a valiant effort from the pair — they led as late as 5-4 in the second set before Township closed it out with three straight.
"I was completely pleased with our effort," Tull said. "Marko and I were underdogs coming into this and we really proved ourselves in the first match. We played pretty aggressive and played really great points.
"The second match (Clark and Ansel) we really laid it out on the table. Marko was playing awesome."
There seemed to be no regret about letting the second set slip from their grasp, despite a disputed baseline line call from Township late in the match that raised the emotions a peg.
"I was just out there having fun," Resetar said. "I was playing with three guys so much better than me, I thought they were getting a little too angry at a guy who can't keep up with them."
"When we up 5-4 we were on Griffin's serve, that's a crazy good serve he has," Tull said. "I'm not used to that at all, the lefty spin. That ball teleported from my forehand to my backhand. I could barely see it."
Township won the game to even the set at 5-all and took the final two games to end the match.
For the record, USTA and D-3 tournament official Dick Green stepped in and confirmed Resetar's call of a base line shot hit long by the Blue Streaks that helped Crest to its 5-4 second-set lead.