The Palmyra boys tennis team had a successful spring campaign, tying East Pennsboro for top honors in the Mid Penn Conference’s Colonial Division.
That regular season success was not enough to generate a postseason run.
Palmyra bowed out of the District 3 Class AAA team tennis playoffs Thursday with a 4-1 loss to South Western at Hershey Racquet Club. The Mustangs grabbed the first three courts decided - at No. 1 singles, No. 2 doubles and second singles, respectively - to clinch the match. The other two matches were permitted to finish out.
The Cougars' season ends at 11-4 overall. South Western advances to Tuesday’s quarterfinal against No. 4 Lower Dauphin.
Palmyra’s Eric Lynn, competing at No. 3 singles against South Western’s Patrick Kane, was the only Cougar to grab a win Thursday – he won in three sets by a 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-1 score after the team verdict had been rendered.
The contest between the 12th-seeded Cougars and the No. 5 Mustangs was not one-sided. Three courts went the distance, to three sets: South Western’s Gavin Kenny beat Eric Kohl 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 at second singles (the clincher), and the Mustangs’ first doubles tandem of Ryan Hohman and Jacob Biondo dispatched Palmyra’s Adam Lerro and Quinn Marcus 7-5, 3-6, 6-4.
“I thought our kids played well,” Palmyra coach Abbie Mahaffey said. “Three three-set matches, the kids are very competitive. They’re scrappy. They like to fight things out (to the end) and that’s what they did.
“I’m just proud of the way they played. I mean, they all came out and lost the first set and they came back and didn’t let them bother them. They like to play and they don’t give up. They’re driven.”
Palmyra’s top singles player, senior Ben Rusling, ran into a buzzsaw in South Western’s Ben Sentz, dropping a 6-0, 6-2 decision. It was the first point of the afternoon for South Western.
“He was just super-consistent,” Rusling said of Sentz. “He barely missed any first serves, kept the ball in play the whole entire time. It took me a while to get up to that pace. That first set, I wasn't serving or hitting any ground strokes well. Halfway through the second set, I felt I was playing better. … When you’re missing shots like I was early, it’s hard to keep a level head.”
Following Sentz’s victory, South Western’s second doubles duo of Ethan Garrett and Vince Guy defeated Palmyra’s Stephen Wargo and Evan Yost 6-1, 6-3 moments later to give the Mustangs a 2-0 lead.