Tull, Cedar Crest on top in county
Nick Tull won his first Lebanon County singles title Monday, and in the process helped Cedar Crest claim its first outright county team title since 2012.
Nick Tull waited patiently, biding his time until his opportunity to be recognized as Lebanon County's best boys tennis player would finally arrive.
When it did, the Cedar Crest senior certainly did not waste it.
After spending three years in the shadow of former teammate and three-time county singles champ Colin Muraika, Tull had the county spotlight to himself on Monday, dropping a grand total of zero games in two matches on the way to his first county singles title during the 22nd annual Lebanon County boys' tourney at Cedar Crest High School.
After a first-round bye, Tull used his potent ground strokes to dispatch Palmyra's Ben Rusling 6-0, 6-0 in the semifinals, before doing the same to Annville-Cleona's Julian DyReyes-Kapp in the finals while dropping a mere 11 points the entire match.
Tull's commanding performance, combined with teammate Jack Muraika's equally convincing win in Flight Two singles and doubles final berths from Alex Ellis and Austin Moore (Flight One) and Evan Dissinger and Chris Hilty (Flight Two) gave the host Falcons their first outright team title since 2012. Cedar Crest's 10 points narrowly edged out runner-up Palmyra's 7 points and Annville-Cleona's 6, which came courtesy of Stephan Wargo and Quinn Marcus' Flight One doubles title for Palmyra, and Santi Paris and William Klatchko's triumph in Flight Two for A-C.
The story of the day, though, was Tull and the end of his long wait for a county title.
"It feels good, I'm really excited," said a grinning Tull, moments after accepting his championship hardware. "It's something I've been working up to, I guess, for a couple years now. I've been behind Colin for a while so to be able to get out there and win Flight One is really awesome, especially with it being my senior year, too. And when it's for your school, that makes it better."
"He's been a great player, an incredible team player for four years," Cedar Crest coach Mike Rohrbach said of Tull. "He's worked really hard and been a great asset to Cedar Crest as a teammate and as a community member. He definitely earned it. I was happy to see him get that win."
Tull wasted no time setting the tone for his win, taking the first nine points of the title match and rarely displaying any vulnerabilities against the steady DyReyes-Kapp, who did his best but simply didn't have the firepower to deny the Falcon on a mission.
"I played pretty well," Tull said. "I went into the match trying to be as focused as possible, because, like I said, I really wanted to take the title away. I thought I played a pretty good match, one of my better ones, for sure."
It certainly didn't hurt that his efforts helped lift Cedar Crest back to the top of the county heap by itself after sharing the crown with Elco the previous two seasons.
"A bunch of the guys this year are seniors, too, so we really wanted to win it and not share it with Elco," Tull said with a laugh.
"It's nice not to share it," Rohrbach said, echoing Tull's sentiments. "I like (Elco coach) Zach Cook, but I'm tired of sharing things with him. Elco's been on a nice streak, Annville's got a great team this year, and Palmyra's been ahead of us in the power rankings. I wasn't sure if it would all fall that way. It's really nice to win it outright again."