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James Buchanan players opt out of Mid Penn tournament

The James Buchanan boys tennis team had a big decision to make Saturday, and the Rockets went with their hearts.

The Mid Penn Conference Class AA championships were scheduled to start Friday morning at East Pennsboro, but were postponed by rain and moved to Saturday morning. The Rockets were already en route when they found out.

But that created a problem.

Saturday morning at 11 was also the funeral of Violet Clark, a JB student and girls tennis player who died following a car accident near the school. Most of the boys players were friends of Clark.

"If we could have played Friday, it would have been a different story," Rockets coach Terri Beegle said. "But my guys decided as a team that they wanted to go to Violet's service. They made the decision, and I agreed with it.

"I had several of the (Mid Penn) coaches contact me and said they respected our decision. They said they probably would have done the same thing under the circumstances."

Josh Summers, a junior No. 1 doubles player, said, "Once we knew the times were overlapping, there wasn't much debate - it only took a minute or two to make up our minds. We all wanted to go to the service and everybody was OK with that."

Because the players did not participate in the Mid Penn tournament, they forfeited any chance they had for MPC honors, and of qualifying for the District 3-AA singles and doubles tournaments.

However, the Rockets had already qualified to play in the District 3-AA team championships, and that was not affected by the decision.

"We all realized that Mid Penns wasn't our priority," Summers said. "Our goal this year was not Mid Penns like it was last year; it was districts, and we still have that."

James Buchanan (14-3) will face Donegal (10-2) in a quarterfinal match on Friday at 3:15 at Hershey Racquet Club. The original time was 12:45, but the district made some changes over the weekend. It will be the Rockets' third trip to the team tournament.

Beegle said, "It's been a real roller coaster here. But one thing I can say is that we have great kids."