BOYS TENNIS: Different serves give Bahney, Muraika same result
HERSHEY >> There's more than one way for a local scholastic tennis player to advance to the District Three singles semifinals.
You can use the Adam Bahney method, serving big, bigger and biggest, to earn your spot.
Or you can try the Colin Muraika way — although it's not advisable — by barely serving at all.
Both approaches worked just fine on Saturday afternoon at Hershey Racquet Club during the opening rounds of the district tourney.
Elco's Bahney used his patented huge serve and volley game to secure a pair of straight-set victories and a semifinal spot in the Class AA bracket, while Cedar Crest's Muraika continued to shrug off a shoulder injury that has forced him to serve underhand to grab a berth in the Class AAA semifinals.
Play will resume on Monday at 1 p.m., back at Hershey Racquet Club, with semifinals, finals and third-place matches on the docket.
And Bahney and Muraika will most assuredly be in the house, along with the weapons, or lack thereof, that got them there.
"Once you get the point back to neutral, it's just like a normal point," Muraika said, explaining his success in compensating for the lack of serve potency. "And I'm confident with my ground strokes and other game. It wasn't really that much of a liability for me."
Still, to gain a berth in the district semis serving underhand is quite a feat. But the second-seeded Muraika, who injured his right shoulder in practice last Wednesday, tuned up for his district run by advancing to the Lancaster-Lebanon League AAA final last week while also serving underhand.
He picked up where he left off on Saturday, using pinpoint, penetrating ground strokes to knock off Red Lion's Sam Innerst 6-1, 6-4 in the first round, then topple Lower Dauphin's Josh Carl 6-3, 6-0 in the second round. Incredibly, Muraika lost his serve just once in the win over Carl.
"I don't know, probably not," Muraika said, when asked if he could have imagined such success without being able to serve normally. "My serve is usually a big weapon that I rely on, especially in the last year. I'm just glad I could get to the finals of leagues so I could be seeded for this. I just worked with what I had."
Bahney did the same, and what he had to work with was far too powerful for his opponents to handle.
First came a 6-2, 6-3 opening-round win over Logan Gouse of East Pennsboro, followed by a dominating 6-1, 6-1 triumph over Sebastian Pena of Lancaster Country Day in the second round.
Normally a potent weapon anyway, Bahney's big serve was even more imposing on the slick indoor courts at Hershey Racquet Club.
"I'm loving the indoors much more than outdoors," Bahney said. "I played two good kids today, and I think I ended up playing pretty well.
"Playing outdoors, if the wind (is a factor) it really disables my serve and takes speed off of it. Indoors, you can really use spin pretty well and mix up the serves. There's a ton of different serves I can hit better indoors than outdoors. And volleying also feels really great."
Also in action Saturday were Bahney and Muraika's teammates, Galen McNaughton (Elco) and Nick Tull (Cedar Crest).
McNaughton reached the second round in Class AA, blasting Michael Andrews of York Catholic 6-0, 6-0 before seeing his singles season ended by a 6-1, 6-3 loss to reigning L-L AA champ William Wanner of Lancaster Mennonite.
Tull went out in the first round in AAA, but not before putting up a good fight in a 6-2, 6-4 loss to No.4 seed Jonah Buczewski of Exeter.
But the story of the day locally was Bahney and Muraika and their distinctly different paths to the district semis.
"I'm definitely looking forward to it," Bahney said of his impending semifinal tussle with top-seeded defending champ Andre Fick of Wyomissing. "It's always a fun time playing Andre. He's always there to compete. It should be really exciting."
For Muraika, too, especially considering being at less than his best could have resulted in Saturday being the final day of his scholastic singles career.
Instead, third-seeded Peter Landis of Red Land awaits in the semis.
"I've had a pretty good high school career, so if I didn't win another match I'd still be happy," Muraika said. "I'm just playing for fun."