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Abbie Machmer continues to win as Sock suffers 1st loss

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Loyalsock's Abbie Machmer returns a shot from Central Columbia's Megan Minning in the #2 seed match at Bruce Henry Park Wednesday.

Abbie Machmer made the tennis court at Bruce Henry Park seem like a track Wednesday against Central Columbia. The Loyalsock junior relentlessly sprinted all over the court, never tired, hit some impressive winners and prevailed again.

Machmer works a long match, but she often works a successful one and she did so again, defeating Megan Minnig in a straight sets at No. 2 singles, 6-2, 6-4. Central Columbia won an exciting showdown of unbeatens, 3-2, but Loyalsock’s marathon player stood out again, not just because she won, but by how she won.

Moving from No. 3 singles to No. 2 this season, Machmer is 6-1 and a major reason Loyalsock (6-1) has been so successful. She often goes three sets, but even in straight-set matches like yesterday, she often is on the court longer than most. Central’s doubles team of Grace Roberts and Lexie Lehman broke a 2-2 tie and clinched a three-set (7-5, 4-6, 6-0) win just 10 minutes after Machmer completed her hard-fought victory.

“That’s usually where I do best. If I can wear people down, because I have a lot of stamina. I know if I get it to a third set it’s my match right away because I can wear them down,” Machmer said. “I think a big advantage I have is I play year-round so I’m always in shape and able to run a lot more than my opponents.”

“That’s what she is known for. The thing with Abbie for the last two years is that she is a true gamer. She wants to win and she does whatever it takes to win a match,” Loyalsock coach Kirk Bower said. “She is ready to play a three-hour match and she has that mindset. Going into a match with the mindset that, ‘I’m just going to play until I win,’ is a great advantage and she backs it up.”

Loyalsock’s Kaitlyn Savidge continued her fabulous season and worked from the opposite spectrum, making quick work of Emma Kelchner at No. 1 singles, winning 6-0, 6-0. The 2017 state semifinalist has not dropped a set this season and was the first player off the court, putting Loyalsock up early, 1-0.

“My groundstrokes were doing good, but I feel like I was struggling more with my serve. Hitting it back and forth and hitting the corners was doing me justice,” Savidge said. “It’s a lot more fun when I can take control of the game rather than me being the one having to defend my side. I kind of like taking it and doing my thing.”

Savidge was the known commodity entering this season, leading a young Loyalsock team. No. 3 singles player Mia Blas and the doubles teams of Sarah/Anna Hall and Madelyn Hall/Isabella Dadzie, however, have shown excellent growth and helped Loyalsock remain one of the district’s premier teams despite not having a lot of experience.

And having Machmer develop into such a weapon has provided maybe the biggest lift of all. Machmer felt like she was flying under the radar entering the season and has been eager to display both her talent and mettle. The emerging team leader did both against a quality opponent yesterday and continues surprising seemingly everyone except herself.

“I have had a really good season. I think it’s shocked some people,” Machmer said. “My coaches told me going from third singles to second singles was going to be tougher competition but I think I’m surprising everyone with what I’m doing.”

After Isabella McHugh won in straight sets (6-2, 6-0) at No. 3 singles and Emma Crawford and Maggie Vandermark won a No. 2 doubles three-setter (3-6, 6-3, 6-0) Central (8-0) took a 2-1 lead. It looked like the Blue Jays might have a shot to clinch the match when Minnig heated up in the second set, going up 4-2, gathering momentum and moving within two games of forcing a third set. Instead, Machmer stuck to her gameplan, put Minnig on the run and fought back, taking four consecutive games and winning the match.

Machmer also trailed early in the first set, but closed that one by winning the last three games. She has no problem going three sets, but Machmer ending this one in two was important with Loyalsock playing three matches in three days this week.

“She battles. She’s a battler. She probably, in that moment, said to herself, ‘it’s going to be easier to win the next couple games and finish it in two than go into a third set,'” Bower said. “Last year she would have been content going into a third set, but she’s really picked up her game, especially there around 4-2. To turn around like that and win four straight like that is pretty impressive.”

So, too, was Savidge as she continued her dominant senior campaign. The three-time district runner-up displayed both power and touch at times, never letting Kelchner feel comfortable or get into a rhythm. The quick match allowed Savidge the chance to become a spectator and help her teammates the rest of the way, a role she relishes, especially after such an uncertain offseason.

“Every single season I set the same goal, try to finish matches as quick as I can,” Savidge said. “I like watching my teammates and if I didn’t have my senior season it would have been unfinished so I’m definitely glad I get to do that.”

“The thing with Katie is she stays on top of her game. She never takes any match for granted,” Bower said. “One of the things she looks at is picking up part of her game in every match. At the same time, we have three matches in a row this week so getting off the court is a good thing.

Central Columbia 3,

Loyalsock 2

SINGLES

1, Kaitlyn Savidge, L, def. Emma Kelchner, 6-0, 6-0; 2, Abbie Machmer, L, def. Megan Minnig, 6-2, 6-4; 3, Isabella McHugh, C, def. Mia Blas 6-2, 6-0

DOUBLES

1, Grace Roberts/Lexie Lehman, C, def. Sarah Hall/Anna Hall, 5-7, 6-4, 6-0; 2, Emma Crawford/Maggie Vandermark, C, def. Madelyn Hall/Isabella Dadzie, 3-6, 6-3, 6-0

Records: Central (8-0), Loyalsock (6-1).

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