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BOYS TENNIS: Elco ousted quickly in L-L semifinals

MYERSTOWN >> The Elco boys tennis team was just happy to be there.

Even knowing what was likely coming its way.

Then again, there are a lot of teams that would have been glad to take the Raiders' place in perennial power Hempfield's line of fire on Monday afternoon.

As has been the case for much of the recent past, Elco qualified for the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs and didn't stay there long, courtesy of a Section One heavyweight.

This time, and for the second year in a row, it was the Black Knights, who needed barely 45 minutes to roll past the Raiders, 3-0, in a rain-shortened L-L semifinal matchup at Elco High School.

Now 14-1, Section One runner-up Hempfield quickly swept the two doubles matches, then grabbed the No. 3 singles contest in short order to sew up a trip to Tuesday's league title match against Section One champ Manheim Township, a 3-0 semifinal winner over Cocalico.

Section Two champ Elco (11-2), a state tournament qualifier a season ago, can now focus on the L-L individual tourney that begins on Thursday, and the upcoming District Three Class AA Team Championships, where it will be a likely No. 2 seed; which is pretty much how the Raiders figured it would go when the day began.

"We're just happy to be here," Elco coach Zach Cook said, as he dodged some post-match raindrops. "We always know that Hempfield and Manheim Township are fantastic teams, but it's always fantastic competition and gets us ready for the next level far more than what we'd get from anyone else in Section Two.

"Do we always get our clocks cleaned by Hempfield and Township? Absolutely. But it gets us ready. We're not gonna see a better team than Hempfield all year."

The Black Knights certainly proved Cook right on Monday.

En route to clinching the win, the visitors dropped a grand total of two games in three matches, with Jacob Curtin officially wrapping up the win with a 6-0, 6-0 rout of Dylan Spitler at No. 3 singles. Prior to that, Jay Cooke and Nick Aksu took care of Linden and Mason Bennetch, 6-1, 6-0, at No. 1 doubles, and Andrew Virts and Jack Hessinger cruised past Christian Stahl and Adam Omar, 6-0, 6-1, in the No. 2 match.

The Raiders fared better at No. 1 and 2 singles before the rains came. Adam Bahney trailed Derek Hagino, 4-6, 2-2, at No. 1 singles, while Galen McNaughton was threatening to force a third set at No. 2 singles, locked in a 5-5 second-set tie with Calvin Athey after dropping the first set by a 6-1 score.

"Depth-wise, I'm happy with where we're at. But it'd be nice to be Hempfield," Cook said of the Black Knights' impressive top-to-bottom lineup strength that told the story of Monday's match.

Still, nothing that happened on Monday could take away from what the Raiders have accomplished to date or the district team goals they're still pursuing.

"We're always looking to win a match, but I knew five points was gonna be tough to come by today," Cook said. "But this is great experience for us. It helps us immensely. I love just to be in this match."

Hempfield 3, Elco 0 at Elco

Singles— 1. Derek Hagino (H) led Adam Bahney, 6-4, 2-2 (suspended), 2. Calvin Athey (H) led Galen McNaughton, 6-1, 5-5, 3. Jake Curtin (H) def. Dylan Spitler, 6-0, 6-0

Doubles — 1. Jay Cooke/Nick Aksu (H) def. Linden Bennetch/Mason Bennetch, 6-1, 6-0, 2. Andrew Virts/Jack Hessinger (H) def. Christian Stahl/Adam Omar, 6-0, 6-1