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Hempfield too much for Cedar Crest, 6-1

The Cedar Crest boys tennis team dropped a Section One battle of unbeatens on Monday afternoon, absorbing a 6-1 loss to Hempfield in South Lebanon.

That's the bad news for the Falcons. The good news is there was a showdown to lose.

Cedar Crest came into the match-up with a spotless 6-0 overall record, and though it didn't stay that way the defeat was a hardly a devastating one for head coach Mike Rohrbach's squad, whose strong start to the season still has it very much in the hunt for Lancaster-Lebanon League and District Three Class AAA playoff berths.

"We got off to a good start, and got some nice wins Rohrbach said of the Falcons' season prior to Monday. "We had a great win down at Red Lion against a district (caliber) team. Hopefully we can get some more wins and put ourselves in position to make that district tournament this year.

"We just fell a little short today. They're a quality team, and we're gonna keep working on getting better."

The high point of the match for the Falcons (6-1, 5-1 Section One) came early, and in the form of Colin Muraika and Nick Tull's impressive 8-4 win over Derek Hagino and Calvin Athey at No. 1 doubles.

But the Black Knights (7-0, 5-0 Section One) took the two other doubles matches — an 8-1 win by Jay Cooke and Jacob Curtin at No. 2 doubles and Nick Aksu and Jack Hessinger's 8-3 triumph in the No. 3 match to grab the lead heading into singles, where they pulled off a sweep of the four matches.

"I think that's the best doubles match I've played in high school tennis," Muraika said. "Nick and I are playing great. They (Hempfield) are just really deep, even their JV guys are solid.

The feature match at No. 1 pitted longtime rivals Muraika, the reigning county and L-L singles titleholder, and Hagino, the defending Class AAA district singles champ, in a seesaw battle that went to Hagino by a 6-4, 6-3 score.

Muraika jumped out to a 4-2 first set lead, only to see the big-hitting Hagino win the next nine games on the way to a straight-set win that was temporarily delayed by Muraika winning three games in a row after going down 5-0 in the decisive set.

"Colin's beaten Derek, but Derek's probably beaten him a few more times," Rohrbach said of Muraika and Hagino, who met in the league and district finals last season. "In those matches, it's just a couple points here or there."

"I lost the match, it is what it is," said a disappointed but not discouraged Muraika. "I didn't play my best. It's good days and bad days, simple as that."

Tull and Athey had an even more competitive battle at No. 2, with Athey eventually prevailing in a third set super tiebreaker, 4-6, 6-4 (10-6).

Liam Easter also put up a valiant battle at No. 4 singles before dropping a 7-5, 6-4 decision to Jay Cooke.

"It's not like this match is going to ruin our season," Muraika said of the Falcons, who have the Lebanon County Tournament on Saturday before another key Section One battle with Manheim Township next week. "We'll still make districts, hopefully."

"I'll still take a 6-1 start to any season," Rohrbach said. "A tough loss today, but we're gonna get better and give (Manheim) Township our best shot next week."

Hempfield 6, Cedar Crest 1 at Cedar Crest

Singles— 1. Derek Hagino (H) def. Colin Muraika, 6-4, 6-3, 2. Calvin Athey (H) def. Nick Tull, 4-6, 6-4, (10-6), 3. Jacob Curtin (H) def. Marko Resetar, 6-3, 6-0, 4. Jay Cooke (H) def. Liam Easter, 7-5, 6-4

Doubles — 1. Muraika/Tull (CC) def. Hagino/Athey, 8-4, 2. Cooke/Curtin (H) def. Resetar/Easter, 8-1, 3. Nick Aksu/Jack Hessinger (H) def. Lucas Kerbis/Connor Verhaggen, 8-3