BY JEFF FALK
Winning a district title is no small feat. But when one considers the size and affluence of District Three and the level of play that is performed on a yearly basis within its borders, it becomes even more impressive.
So the fact that Lebanon County won not one but two district tennis crowns recently really speaks to just the kind of season the locale has enjoyed.
On Tuesday at Hershey Racquet Club, Cedar Crest senior Colin Muriaka captured the District Three Class AAA singles championship. Muriaka defeated Hempfield’s Derek Hagino 6-3, 6-2 in the final match.
Then on Saturday at the same venue, Elco seniors Adam Bahney and Galen McNaughton claimed the District Three Class AA doubles title. Bahney and McNaughton downed Alphonse Bongbong and Dan Trifoi of Wyomissing 6-2, 6-4 in the championship match.
The Raiders rode two service breaks to victory in the first set. In the second, with the match all-even, Bahney and McNaughton broke through again in the seventh game to assume a 4-3 lead they would never relinquish.
Bahney and McNaughton had reached the title tilt with a 6-1, 7-5 semifinal triumph over Tom Paganelli and Cristen Melendez of Fleetwood. The Elco duo will represent District Three as its champion in the PIAA Class AA doubles tournament.
For Muriaka, his district title was a measure of revenge. The Falcon 12th-grader had fallen to Hagino in the singles’ championship match at the Lancaster-Lebanon League tournament a week prior.
Muriaka’s former teammate, Weston Fortna, had won the District Three Class AAA singles crown three years earlier.
The key moment of the first set of the championship match came in the eighth game, when Muriaka broke Hagino’s service to establish a 5-3 lead. Then in the second set, Muriaka bolted out to a commanding 4-1 lead.
Muriaka had qualified for the final match with a 6-4, 6-0 semifinal triumph over Red Land’s Peter Landis. Muriaka’s play qualified him for next week’s PIAA Class AAA singles draw.