GIRLS' TENNIS: Northern Lebanon's Andersson, Cedar Crest snare Lebanon County titles
The singles title of the Lebanon County Girls Tennis Tournament is headed to a place it has rarely, if ever, been — Northern Lebanon High School. And, eventually, to a place it surely has never been — Denmark.
The county team championship, meanwhile, is headed back to a most familiar home — Cedar Crest.
The annual battle for county girls tennis supremacy on Saturday, which began last Saturday before being suspended by rain after the first round, had a little something for everybody, whether you were a fan of tradition or the unexpected.
The unexpected — or at least the non-traditional — was provided by Northern Lebanon's Maja Andersson, an exchange student from Denmark, who dropped a grand total of one game in two matches on the way to bringing the Flight One singles title to the perennially struggling Vikings.
The host Falcons swept the rest of the flight titles, thanks to Keeley Hartman (Flight Two singles), Abbey Castor and Tatyana Golub (Flight One doubles) and Clare Aitken and Serena Cheng (Flight Two doubles), while ending a one-year hiatus as team champs after Elco had wrested the title from the perennial champs last season.
The story of the tourney, though, was Andersson, who remained undefeated via dominating straight-set wins over talented opponents Sydney Nye of Elco and runner-up Alicia Hitz of Annville-Cleona.
"I'm proud of myself," said a smiling Andersson, who took up tennis in her native country at the tender age of 8. "I didn't know what (the county tournament) was before I came here, so I didn't know what to expect. But when I came here I was very happy and excited."
Northern Lebanon coach Carrie Ann Derr and her team have been equally happy and excited to have Andersson, who along with Flight Two runner-up Kelly Shuey has lifted the program to respectability this season after years of struggle.
"It's pretty exciting," Derr said of Andersson's triumph. "She's awesome, she's winning all her matches and most of her matches 6-0, 6-0. She's doing a great job."
Outside of some long points and games against Nye in the second set of their semifinal match, Andersson dominated again on Saturday, including winning the first 12 points of the title match against Hitz on the strength of her powerful baseline game.
"I think I played really good," Andersson said, modestly. "It's been fun (playing for Northern Lebanon), all the girls are really nice and sweet. I love playing tennis. I think it's a fun game."
It was fun for Andersson's host family, too. The Denmark native is living with Beth Lerch and her husband Howard while attending Northern Lebanon and converting them into tennis fans in the process.
"This has been very exciting for us," Beth Lerch said. "I don't know much about tennis, but I'm learning as she's winning. It's been fun."
It was a fun day for Cedar Crest as well, with the Falcons riding the aforementioned flight titles and Greta Strunk's semifinal berth in Flight One singles to a return to the top of the county with nine team points. Tied for second with five points were Northern Lebanon and Annville-Cleona, which got a runner-up finish at Flight One doubles from April Barley and Katia Luu and from Addie Heeter and Katie Nyce at Flight Two doubles despite that duo having to forfeit the final to Cheng and Aitken because of illness.
"It is lovely to have it back," Cedar Crest coach Gila Hodge said. "Elco won it last year and they had a great tournament. But we really focused on making this a priority, and as you can see the girls played great in singles and doubles.
"I thought they were all standouts. They did what I asked them to do, what they practiced to do. It could have been anybody's tournament, so I think that made it that much more enjoyable."
Maja Andersson (NL) bye
Sydney Nye (E) def. Amelia Kuhn (L), 6-0, 6-1
Greta Strunk (CC) def. Alli Lynn (P), 6-3, 6-3
Alicia Hitz (AC) bye
Andersson def. Nye, 6-0, 6-1
Hitz def. Strunk, 6-2, 6-0
Andersson def. Hitz, 6-0, 6-0
Flight Two First Round
Kelly Shuey (NL) bye
Tia Offner (P) def. Kelsey Stubblebine (E), 6-1, 6-3
Keeley Hartman (CC) def. Emma Lerchen (AC), 6-2, 6-2
Lydi Haddock (L) bye
Shuey def. Offner, 6-4, 6-4
Hartman def. Haddock, 6-0, 6-0
Hartman def. Shuey, 6-1, 6-4
Doubles Flight One First Round
Tatyana Golub/Abbey Castor (CC) bye
Anna Enck/Jennifer Kinsey (E) def. Katie Bartal/Kelly Cooper (L), 6-2, 6-0
Katia Luu/April Barley (AC) def. Nicole Ditzler/Brianna Ditzler (NL), 6-1, 7-6 (10-8)
Rachael Speck/Miranda Pells (P) bye
Golub/Castor def. Enck/Kinsey, 6-2, 6-4
Luu/Barley def. Pells/Speck, 6-1, 4-6, 10-8
Golub/Castor def. Luu/Barley, 6-3, 6-2
Flight Two First Round
Clare Aitken/Serena Cheng (CC) def. Julia Walker/Maddie Beidler (P), 6-2, 6-1
Addie Heeter/Katie Nyce (AC) def. Steph and Liz Palashnyuk, 6-1, 6-2
Aitken/Cheng def. Heeter/Nyce, forfeit