HERSHEY - The Cedar Crest girls tennis team wanted to end its season at Hershey Racquet Club. Except it didn't.
HRC, site of the District 3 Team Tennis Championships, is sort of the Promised Land for local tennis teams in that if you end up playing a match there at some point it's pretty hard to argue that you didn't have a very successful season.
But there's a catch - getting there also means losing there for all but those teams fortunate enough to win the championship. And that can make the trip to Chocolatetown decidedly bittersweet.
And so it was for Cedar Crest on Thursday afternoon in a 3-2 loss to New Oxford in the opening round of the District 3-AAA team tourney.
Before bowing out and ending its season at 9-4, the 10th-seeded Falcons gave a good account of themselves, sweeping the doubles matches behind victories from Serena Cheng and Olivia Hitz and Hallie Koslowskl and Makayla Miller.
But No. 7 New Oxford (11-3) countered by taking all three singles matches in straight sets thanks to the efforts of Dagney Markle, Brooke Moyer and Kamdyn Balko en route to earning a spot in Tuesday's quarterfinal round opposite No.2 seed Hershey.
"We sure tried," said Cedar Crest coach Gila Hodge, saddened by the loss but proud of her team's effort. "When we start the season, our plan is to get here. And it's a long road. You forget each year how long it is and how much it takes to get here. It's exhausting. This was their goal, to get here, and once you get here you want to stay here. They were fighting for that."
But New Oxford, making its first district tournament appearance wanted to stay, too, and Markle, Moyer and Balko made sure they did.
Markle fought off Keeley Hartman, 6-4, 6-1 at No.1 singles, Moyer topped Tatyana Golub, 6-4, 6-2 in the No. 2 match, and Balko overcame a 3-0 first set deficit at third singles to beat Abbey Castor, 6-4, 6-3.
But Cheng and Hitz provided Cedar Crest with some consolation via a 6-3, 6-4 triumph at No. 1 doubles, before Koslowski and Miller pulled out a 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 win in the No.2 match, the last one of the day.
"I knew if Brooke came up strong today we could sweep in singles, and we did," New Oxford coach Travis Smith said. "And we had to. That was huge for our momentum. They had a tremendous team. It was so fun playing them."
It wasn't quite as fun as Cedar Crest would have liked, but Hodge was still more than pleased with the fight her squad showed right to the end, win or lose.
"My girls were in every point, they were trying hard," Hodge said. "The girls are all coming down with colds and all sorts of stuff, but you couldn't tell by how hard they fought."
New Oxford 3, Cedar Crest 2
1. Dagney Markle (NO) def. Keeley Hartman, 6-4, 6-1
2. Brooke Moyer (NO) def. Tatyana Golub, 6-4, 6-2
3. Kamdyn Balko (NO) def. Abbey Castor, 6-4, 6-3
1. Serena Cheng/Olivia Hitz (CC) def. Lindsay Fadenrecht/Maddie Markle, 6-3, 6-4
2. Hallie Koslowski/Makayla Miller (CC) def. Kasi Conjack/Makayla Wayne, 6-4, 1-6, 7-5