LANCASTER - It was a long day, a long tournament and it featured a championship match that was extended to its limit.
But Cedar Crest's Nick Tull and Jack Muraika weren't about to complain about the amount of time and energy they had to devote to the Lancaster-Lebanon League individual tennis tourney.
How could they, given how well spent and rewarding that time was?
Tull and Muraika capped an L-L tournament that began on Thursday and was hampered by weather and scheduling issues in a most satisfying way Tuesday, capturing the Flight One Class AAA doubles title with a tense 8-7 (11-9) triumph over big-hitting Manheim Township duo of Griffin Clark and James Noel in the title match at Conestoga Valley.
Tull and Muraika's day began around noon when they arrived at CV, only to be shipped off to Manheim Central for the quarterfinals and semifinals because of wet courts from morning rain. They then returned to CV for the finals in the early evening and around 7 p.m. were crowned league champs after outlasting Clark and Noel in a hotly-contested tiebreaker that featured two saved match points and a recovery from a blown 3-0 lead.
"It was a long tournament, but to have a match that close and to come out on top feels really good," said a grinning Muraika, a freshman whose older brother Colin teamed with Tull to win the doubles title last season. "It was nerve-racking, and also we both lost to Griffin (in singles) in the tournament. He's a great guy but when you lose twice you want to get the third one."
Muraika and Tull weren't the only county players to emerge victorious on Tuesday. Annville-Cleona's Santi Paris captured the Flight Four singles title with a 6-1, 1-6, 11-9 win over Manheim Central's Andrew Bookman, and also teamed with Julian DyReyes-Kapp for a runner-up finish in the Flight One AA doubles bracket.
"It was nice. We showed up and represented ourselves well and our school well," said head coach Joe Heckard of A-C's best showing in leagues in many years. "Never taking a point for granted, they played every play hard. I couldn't be prouder of them."
For their part, Tull and Muraika had much to be proud of as well after outgunning the powerful Township duo with a perfect mix of individual shot-making and teamwork.
And resilience, never fading even after coughing up a 5-3 lead in the 8-game pro set and later staring down two do-or-die match points in the tiebreaker.
"Coming into today, I was a little nervous because I wanted to win really, really badly," Tull said. "Not only because it's my senior year, but just to be able to defend the title. Whether, it was with Colin or Jack, we played well as a doubles team. I was incredibly happy with how the match went."
The season as a whole helped Tull and Muraika build toward Monday's title. Though they had familiarity with each other's games, the two had to get used to each other as partners throughout the season. The evidence that they did was their championship performance.
"It was awesome," Muraika said. "Nick's a great partner. I think we complement each other really well. I really enjoy playing with him."
"The first couple matches we had to work out the kinks and see exactly how we played together," Tull said. "When we played the bigger matches we were there together and worked as a unit. By the end of the season I think we were playing really great doubles together. Even though it's only one season, I think we've been doing really well."