Lancers fall to Central Columbia in District 4 girls tennis team tournament final
Megan Minnig watched the tennis ball land beyond the baseline and paused. She looked to her Central Columbia teammates seated on the hill outside the courts at Williamsport High School and quickly made a beeline for the gate in the fence.
With her teammates screaming as they rushed down the hill, they all met for one giant hug. The ball which landed out not only gave Minnig a win in the No. 2 singles match Thursday, but it handed the Blue Jays the first District 4 girls tennis team championship in school history.
Slowly, the crowd of jubilant Central players grew, all conjoined in one giant hug as Loyalsock’s players slumped off the court. The Lancers reached the district final yesterday with a 3-0 win over Montgomery in the district semifinal. But Minnig’s upset win helped Central Columbia remain undefeated and beat Loyalsock for the third time this season, 3-1.
Central Columbia advances to the state team tournament where it will host District 2 champion Scranton Prep on Oct. 28, likely at the Central PA Tennis Center in South Williamsport. Scranton Prep defeated Riverside, 3-2, Thursday.
Loyalsock is left on the outside looking in at the state tournament. In most years, the District 4 runner-up also qualifies for the state tournament. But with a shortened state bracket this year, only the champion from each district qualifies.
“The fact that we’re such a young team and worked to this point, it’s just a weird ending,” Loyalsock coach Kirk Bower said. “It’s a very weird way for this to end. I don’t want to say it’s frustrating, because it’s still an accomplishment. It’s just the situation you have to deal with.”
Loyalsock dropped a pair of 3-2 matches to Central Columbia during the regular season. But Bower had liked how his two doubles teams had been playing. And when the Lancers’ No. 1 doubles team of Sarah and Anna Hall jumped out to a 5-0, first-set lead, he liked the momentum the team was building. That No. 1 doubles match was the spot Bower thought the Lancers could best flip a result from the previous two meetings to get the extra point it needed for the win.
But not long after the Halls finished a 6-3 win in the first set, Minnig put the finishing touches on a 6-2 win in the first set over Loyalsock’s Abbie Machmer at No. 2 singles. As eye-opening as the Halls’ first-set win at No. 1 doubles was, Minnig’s win was equally as impressive. She had dropped her two previous meetings with Machmer, 6-2, 6-4 and 6-3, 6-4.
There was a difference in Minnig’s game Thursday, though. Previously she had tried to get Machmer running around using drop shots and coming back over the top with lobs. But for whatever reason it just didn’t work in the first two meetings. Thursday was a 180-degree swing. Not wanting to allow Machmer to post up on the baseline and dictate the points, Minnig found a rhythm with both shots and never allowed Machmer to get settled into her own game.
Minnig’s 6-2, 6-2 win at No. 2 singles made what happened at No. 1 doubles moot. It also clinched the championship.
“Megan is not going to win a baseline game with (Machmer), so she had to get her drop shots and the lob working to wear her out,” Central Columbia coach Lee Ercolani said. “Megan played really good, and Abbie is such a competitor and a fighter. I really didn’t expect a win there, to be honest.”
“I think they had a gameplan and they played it very well,” Bower said. “They put (Machmer) where she’s not comfortable. She likes to play a baseline game and they took her out of that. She tried to counter, but it’s just not her style.”
Prior to that, both teams had pretty much held serve. Katie Savidge, who finished second at the district singles tournament, posted a 6-2, 6-1 win at No. 1 singles to give Loyalsock its first point. Central Columbia’s No. 2 doubles team of Emma Crawford and Maggie Vandermark cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 win. And Isabelle McHugh won without surrendering a game at No. 3 singles for the Blue Jays.
“I thought we had good momentum coming in,” Bower said. “Both our doubles played well (against Montgomery) and that made me feel more confident because both times we played them it came down to doubles. But Central played well. I’m proud of my team. Central always finds a way to come back.”
DISTRICT 4 TENNIS TEAM TOURNAMENT
Central Columbia 3,
South Williamsport 1
1. Olivia Dorner, SW, def. Emma Kelchner, 6-0, 6-0; 2. Alayna McGover, SW, tied Megan Minnig, 6-2, 3-6, DNF; 3. Isabelle McHugh, CC, def. Eve Jackson, 6-1, 6-0.
1. Abby Paternostro/Grace Roberts, CC, def. Paige Kistner/Ella Livorno, 6-1, 6-0; 2. Emma Crawford/Maggie Vandermark, CC, def. Ellie Metzger/Gia Hart, 6-1, 7-6 (8-6).
Loyalsock 3, Montgomery 0
1. Katie Savidge, L, def. Clara Ulrich, 6-0, 6-3; 2. Abbie Machmer, L, def. Jenna Waring, 6-0, 6-2; 3. Mia Blas, L, leads Samy Ulrich, 7-6 (1), 1-0, DNF.
1. Sarah Hall/Anna Hall, L, def. Corney Smith/Brynn McRae, 6-3, 6-2; 2. Madelyn Hall/Isabella Dadzie, L, leads Taylor McRae/Mallinie Myers, 7-5, 3-0, DNF.
Central Columbia 3,
1. Katie Savidge, L, def. Emma Kelchner, 6-3, 6-1; 2. Megan Minnig, CC, def. Abbie Machmer, 6-2, 6-2; 3. Isabelle McHugh, CC, def. Mia Blas, 6-0, 6-0.
1. Sarah Hall/Anna Hall, L, leads Abby Paternostro/Grace Roberts, 6-3, 4-5, DNF; 2. Emma Crawford/Maggie Vandermark, CC, def. Isabelle Dadzie/Madelyn Hall, 6-1, 6-2.
Records: Central (17-0); Loyalsock (15-3).