BOYS TENNIS: A 3-peat for Crest's Muraika
Click here for more photos from this story
Click here for more photos from this story
It was a great match between two great players and competitors.
And it was more than the appropriate that it was the final match of an extremely high-level tournament.
The 21st edition of the Lebanon County Boys Tennis Tournament was simply a classic battle of wills, right down to the end, which came when Cedar Crest's Colin Muraika held off a determined challenge from Elco's Adam Bahney to win his third straight county singles title.
Muraika's gutsy 4-6, 6-3, (10-8) triumph also assured the Falcons of a share of the team championship with Elco for a second straight year.
That tie, too, was appropriate, given that the Falcons and Raiders squared off in all four flight finals and split the results. Galen McNaughton (Flight Two singles) and Mason Bennetch and Christian Stahl (Flight Two doubles) earned bragging rights for Elco, while Muraika and Marko Resetar and Liam Easter upheld Cedar Crest's honor.
But every great tournament in any sport has a defining matchup, and seniors Muraika and Bahney made sure their third straight showdown in the county finals fit the bill, right down to the hotly contested third-set super tiebreaker that decided the match.
"I grew up with Colin, and we've had so many close matches like that," said Bahney, who was also making his fourth straight county finals appearance. "All around, it was a good match. We both had our ups and downs, I think. I gotta give it to him, he kept his head the whole match and fought to the end."
"It's great," said Muraika, of both the 3-peat and what it took to achieve it. "Coming into the match, I was like, 'I already have two under my belt' but I was trying to stay like it was the first time my sophomore year and I had a crack at it."
Muraika's approach would serve him well after big-hitting Bahney powered his way back from a 4-1 deficit and won five games in a row to take the first set.
But Muraika came up with the response of a champion, steadying his play, cutting down on mistakes and ultimately taking the first three games of the second set en route to a 6-3 win that evened the match.
"That was bad," Muraika said of letting the first set slip away. "I was playing pretty steady, then he just bombed off a couple big service games. I lost my focus for a while, but then I was able to come back in the second set."
Bahney would not go quietly, though, fighting off three match points in the decisive super tiebreaker, before Muraika finally put the match away with a well-placed overhead that just eluded the Elco standout's reach.
"I wish I could have had one,"Bahney said with a smile of falling short in his last shot at a county singles crown. "We play all the time over in Lancaster and go back and forth, but unfortunately I've never beaten him when it actually matters."
Bahney was able to take some consolation from the Raiders sharing the team title, which was helped along by McNaughton's 7-5, 3-6, (10-8) win over Tull and Stahl and Bennetch rallying past Lucas Kerbis and Connor Verhaggen by a 2-6, 6-3, (10-6) score.
Easter and Resetar made it an even split for Crest by besting Elco's Linden Bennetch and Adam Omar 6-2, 6-2 in the Flight One doubles title match.
"This year, we have a really young team," Bahney said of sharing the team title, "and for how little they've played varsity tennis they're doing extremely well. And Galen played an outstanding match."
But by coming through for himself, Muraika came through for his team as well, preventing Elco from grabbing sole possession of the county title with his gut-check win over Bahney.
"Props to Elco, man," Muraika said of sharing the title with the Raiders again. "They're good every year, and their school is like two-thirds the size of ours. They deserve it."
21st Annual Lebanon County Boys Tennis Tournament
Final Team Standings
1. Cedar Crest, Elco 10
3. Annville-Cleona, Palmyra 2
5. Lebanon, Northern Lebanon 0
Colin Muraika (CC) bye
Julian Dyreyes-Kapp (AC) def. Owen Stover (NL)6-1, 6-0
Eric Lynn (Palmyra) def. Jake Cramer (L), 6-0, 6-1
Adam Bahney (E) bye
Muraika def. Dyreyes-Kapp, 6-2, 6-0
Bahney def. Lynn, 6-0, 6-0
Muraika def. Bahney, 4-6, 6-3, (10-8)
Galen McNaughton (E) bye
Ben Rusling (P) def. Deven Jones, 6-2, 6-0
Colin Myers (AC) def. Tyler Smith, 6-0, 6-0
Nick Tull (CC) bye
McNaughton def. Rusling, 6-1, 6-1
Tull def. Myers, 6-0, 6-0
McNaughton def. Tull, 7-5, 3-6, (10-8)
Kyle Moore/Devin Tipton (NL) bye
Marko Resetar/Liam Easter (CC) def. Campbell Graff/Juan Cruz (Palmyra), 6-2, 7-5
Linden Bennetch/Adam Omar (E) def. William Klatchko/Ben O'Connor (Annville-Cleona), 6-4, 7-5
Eric Miller/Cameron Weaver (L) bye
Resetar/Easter def. Moore/Tipton, 6-0, 6-0
Bennetch/Omar def. Miller/Weaver, 6-2, 6-1
Resetar/Easter def. Bennetch/Omar, 6-2, 6-2
Drew Speraw/Spencer Grogan (AC) bye
Mason Bennetch/Christian Stahl (E) def. Keegan Maguire/ Ben Secoges (L), 6-3, 6-4
Lucas Kerbis/Connor Verhaggen (CC) def. Aiden Powell/Nick White, 6-0, 6-0
Adam Lerro/Quinn Marcus (P) bye
Bennetch/Stahl def. Speraw/Grogan, 6-1, 6-0
Kerbis/Verhaggen def. Lerro/Marcus, 6-7 (5-7), 6-1, 10-5
Bennetch/Stahl def. Verhaggen/Kerbis, 2-6, 6-3, 10-6