Ali Lynn became Palmyra's first county singles champ since 2000, and Cedar Crest won its fifth team title in six years at Saturday's Lebanon County tourney
Heading into Saturday's Lebanon County Girls Tennis Tournament, it had been a mere 16 years since a Palmyra player had walked away with the event's Flight One singles title.
Or, as Alli Lynn decided with her play on a brutally hot day at Cedar Crest, long enough.
Using deep, accurate groundstrokes and deft touch and anticipation at the net, Lynn captured Palmyra's first county singles crown since 2000 with a 6-4, 6-3 championship match victory over Cedar Crest tough customer Keeley Hartman.
Lynn, a junior playing in her first county final, jumped to a 5-2 first set lead, survived a late Hartman rally in the opener, then won five of the last six games of the match after going down 2-1 in the second set to become the first Cougar to claim the county's top prize since Katie Opilo - daughter of current Palmyra coach Matt Opilo - accomplished the feat at the turn of the century.
Hartman and her Cedar Crest teammates got the last laugh in the team competition, winning their fifth county championship in the last six years by sweeping the other three flights courtesy of Tatayana Golub (Flight Two singles), Abbey Castor and Serena Cheng (Flight One doubles) and Hallie Koslowski and Makayla Miller (Flight Two doubles).
But it wasn't quite enough to wipe the shy smile off the face of Lynn, a quiet but proud champion on this day.
"It's kind of an honor to do that for my school," Lynn said, as the reality of her achievement began to sink. "I thought I could win if I really tried my best. I just needed to play my game, and not play (Hartman's) game with drop shots. I just needed to hit my best."
She did so for much of the match, although Hartman's patience and variety of spins and drop shots knocked Lynn off balance at times.
The key juncture of the match came in the decisive game of the first set after Hartman had turned a 5-2 deficit into a 5-4 nail biter. But Lynn calmly found the range again, closing out the set by breaking Hartman's serve and grabbing control of the match.
"It was really big," Lynn said. "Because when you have the first set you have a sense of relaxation that you can actually win this. You just need to try to win that first set because it's all downhill from there."
It wasn't completely smooth sailing for Lynn in the second set, but by the time match point arrived and Hartman was unable to return Lynn's well-placed forehand approach shot, there was no more need to worry.
"I was a little nervous, didn't want to blow it and make it go into a third set tiebreaker," she said with a smile. "I just stayed calm and played my game."
Cedar Crest played its game pretty well, too, en route to claiming another team title. Although Lynn denied the Falcons a sweep of the flights, the play of Golub, Castor, Cheng, Koslowski and Miller - and Hartman's important contribution by getting to the finals - more than made up for that.
"It really means a lot," said Cedar Crest coach Gila Hodge. "This is our county tournament and there is a lot of hometown pride in winning this. From year to year, the girls bring so much talent and skill and effort, it's really an enjoyable tournament."
Lebanon County Girls Tennis Tournament
at Cedar Crest
Alli Lynn (Palmyra) bye
Kelsey Stubblebine (Elco) bye
Kelly Cooper (Lebanon) def. Katie Nyce (Annville-Cleona), 7-5, 6-1
Keeley Hartman (CC) bye
Lynn def. Stubblebine, 6-0, 6-0
Hartman def. Cooper, 6-1, 6-1
Lynn def. Hartman, 6-4, 6-3
Tatayana Golub (CC) bye
Katie Bartal bye
Maddie Beidler (P) def. Olivia Mowery (AC), 6-0, 6-1
Jen Kinsey (E) bye
Golub (CC) def. Katie Bartal (L), 6-0, 6-0
Beidler def. Kinsey, 6-0, 6-2
Golub def. Beidler, 6-3, 3-0, retired
Angel Wolfe-Morgan Long (AC) bye
Steph and Liz Palashnyuk (E) bye
Abbey Castor-Serena Cheng (CC) def. Sarah Sheils-Vivian Ly (P) 6-0, 6-1
Laura Gilbert/Jackie Checo (L) bye
Palashnyuk-Palashnyuk def. Wolfe-Long, 6-0, 6-0
Castor-Cheng def. Gilbert-Checo, 6-1, 6-1
Castor-Cheng def. Palashnyuk-Palashnyuk, 7-5, 6-1
Kara Hoffman-M. Vega (L) bye
Katie Hollen-Jenelle Kovacs (P) bye
Hallie Koslowski-Makayla Miller (CC) def. Emilie Showers-Maddie Groy (E) 6-3, 6-1
Sasha Bretous-Alyssia Rivera (AC) bye
Hollen-Kovacs def. Hoffman-Vega, 6-0, 6-3
Koslowski-Miller def. Bretous-Rivera, 6-1, 6-0
Koslowski-Miller def. Hollen-Kovacs, 4-6, 6-0, 12-10
Final Team Standings
1. Cedar Crest 11
2. Palmyra 9
3. Elco 3
4. Lebanon 1
5. Annville-Cleona 0