SOUTH LEBANON – While one streak was continuing, another one was ending.
And when one considers the overall health of the Lebanon County Scholastic Boys’ Tennis Tournament, that was probably a good thing. For it struck a balance between tradition and familiarity, and suspense and change.
On Saturday afternoon at Cedar Crest High School, during the 19th staging of the annual event, the Elco Raiders halted the host Falcons’ stretch of seven team championships in-a-row. Meanwhile, for the seventh consecutive year, a Falcon won the Flight One singles title – and the tag of ‘Lebanon County’s top player’ that accompanies it – when sophomore Colin Muraika claimed the bracket’s final match.
Muraika defeated Elco’s Adam Bahney 6-0, 7-6 (7-0) in a spirit championship bout at Flight One singles. But Bahney discovered solace in the fact that his Raiders edged Muraika and the Falcons 10-9 in the team standings.
Palmyra finished third in the team competition, followed by Annville-Cleona, Lebanon and Northern Lebanon.
“It certainly was a team effort,” said Elco head coach Zach Cook. “Ten to nine, we needed absolutely every single point. The second (flight) doubles was the key, when we were able to knock them (the Falcons) off in the semifinals. We got every single point we needed, and it was a total team effort. It was just good that we were able to do it.
“This was certainly a goal at the beginning of the season,” Cook continued. “We knew if it was going to happen any year, that it was going to be this year.”
“It’s great,” said Muraika. “You just look at that list of past winners and there’s so many good players. It’s just cool to be a part of that. I wanted to win, but especially against Adam. We go back-and-forth.
Muraika did not drop a game in his semifinal whitewashing, while Bahney required a tiebreaker to dismiss Pearce Clay of Palmyra, 6-3, 3-6, 10-8. Muriaka’s streak of consecutive games won reached 20 when he assumed a 2-0 lead in the second set against Bahney.
“He basically gave me the first set,” said Muraika of Bahney. “In the second set, he just kind of picked it up. I just started going to his back-hand because I wanted to out-steady him.
“I think he was feeling the pressure a little bit,” Muraika added. “He missed some serves and some ground strokes he doesn’t usually miss.”
“I feel like the very first set Adam wasn’t himself,” said Cook. “He had a grueling match against the Palmyra kid in the semifinals. Physically, Adam was fine, but he didn’t show up until the second set. Adam wasn’t as relaxed as he could’ve been. Colin was definitely more mentally sharp today and it showed in his strokes. And that can make a huge difference.
“Adam woke up (in the second set),” continued Cook. “He finally started to play within himself. He was over-hitting. He changed his approach. Colin made very few mistakes in the first set because Adam didn’t give him a chance to make mistakes.”
Bahney finally tightened his game up a bit in the middle of the second set, and because of it, he overcame a 3-1 deficit with three straight games. Bahney also won the ninth game of the second set to assume a 5-4 edge, and the 11th game to grab a 6-5 edge.
But it was at that point where Muraika rediscovered his edge. Muriaka deadlocked the second set by claiming the 12th game, and his momentum carried over into the tiebreaker where he won seven straight points to claim the title.
“I met Adam when he was 12 and I was 11,” said Muraika. “Since then, we’ve been back and forth.
Cedar Crest also emerged with a team point at number-two singles where Muraika’s doubles’ partner Nick Tull pulled out a three-set comeback. After dropping the opening set to Elco’s Galen McNaughton 3-6, Tull stormed back to win the second set 6-2, before claiming the tiebreaker, and match, 10-6.
“What this match shows is that we don’t have to get wins out of Adam and Galen to win,” said Cook. “We’re deep. I hope we can carry this momentum further, into some sort of postseason.”
But the key to Elco’s team victory may have been the team work in doubles, where the Raiders garnered both championships.
In the Flight One Doubles final, Raiders Tyler Arnold and Noah Ginder downed Cedar Crest’s David Mesaros and Kevin Bonalle, 6-4, 6-2. At the Flight Two Doubles title tilt, Elco’s Kurtis Brown and Josh Pfautz dismantled Eric Lynn and Julian Haghani, 6-0, 6-0.
“My guys have been working so much in the off-season, especially in doubles,” said Cook. “We thought if we could play good doubles we could take away a couple of matches from teams. There’s such good chemistry there.”
Lebanon County Scholastic Boys’ Tennis Tournament
1995: Cedar Crest
1997: Cedar Crest
1998: Cedar Crest
1999: Annville-Cleona/ Palmyra
2001: Cedar Crest
2006: Cedar Crest
2007: Cedar Crest
2009: Cedar Crest
2010: Cedar Crest
2011: Cedar Crest
2012: Cedar Crest
Flight One Champions
1995: Ben Andreozzi -CC
1996: Dave Wolfe-CC
1997: Johnny Oh-CC
1998: Brock Hoover- ELCO
1999: Brock Hoover -ELCO
2000: Stanley Kahl -ELCO
2002: Brent Kahl -ELCO
2003: Stanley Kahl -ELCO
2004: Brent Kahl – ELCO
2005: Brent Kahl -ELCO
2006: Matt Grodzinski -NL
2007: Brad Wolfson -CC
2008: Steven Kurban -CC
2009: Weston Fortna -CC
2010: Weston Fortna – CC
2011: Weston Fortna – CC
2012: Weston Fortna – CC
2013: Colin Muraika – CC
19TH ANNUAL LEBANON COUNTY
at Cedar Crest
FINAL TEAM STANDINGS
1. Elco – 10
2. Cedar Crest – 9
3. Palmyra – 4
4. Annville-Cleona – 2
5. Lebanon – 1
6. Northern Lebanon – 0
Adam Bahney (Elco) bye
Pearce Clary (Palmyra) def. Collin Wathen, 6-1, 6-2
Thabani Ndlovu (Annville-Cleona) def. Sabien Kleinfelter (Northern Lebanon), 6-3, 6-3
Colin Muraika (Cedar Crest) bye
Bahney def. 6-3, 3-6, 10-8
Muraika def. Ndlovu, 6-0, 6-0
Muraika def. Bahney, 6-0, 7-6 (7-0)
Galen McNaughton (Elco) bye
Aaron Struphar (Annville-Cleona) def. Jacob Cramer (Lebanon), 6-1, 6-1
John Griffin (Palmyra) def. Kyle Tipton (Northern Lebanon), 6-0, 6-1
Nick Tull (Cedar Crest) bye
McNaughton def. Struphar, 6-1, 6-1
Tull def. Griffin, 6-1, 6-0
Tull def. McNaughton, 3-6, 6-2, 10-6
Nico Schmedt/Julian Kapp (Annville-Cleona) bye
Kevin Bonalle/David Mesaros (Cedar Crest) def. Devon Jones/Eric Miller, 6-0, 6-0
Tyler Arnold/Noah Ginder (Elco) def. Dan Kreiser/Stephen Speer (Northern Lebanon), 6-0, 6-0
Tyler Shank/Evan Azzara (Palmyra) bye
Bonalle/Mesaros def. Schmedt/Kapp, 6-0, 6-3
Arnold/Ginder def. Shank/Azzara, 6-0, 6-3
Arnold/Ginder def. Bonalle/Mesaros, 6-4, 6-2
Kurtis Brown/Josh Pfautz (Elco) bye
Tim Donley/Ryan Neiswender (Cedar Crest) def. Ben Laudermilch/Kyle Schaeffer (Annville-Cleona), 6-1, 6-1
Cameron Weaver/James Sumlin (Lebanon) def. Sam Lyon/Allen Cox (Northern Lebanon), 6-2, 6-1
Julien Haghani/Eric Lynn (Palmyra) bye
Brown/Pfautz def. Donley/Neiswender, 6-4, 6-1
Haghani/Lynn def. Weaver/Sumlin, 6-4, 6-0
Brown/Pfautz def. Lynn/Haghani, 6-0, 6-0