BY JEFF FALK
SOUTH LEBANON – The old revenge factor in sports is perhaps a bit over-rated.
Cedar Crest probably didn’t have any extra motivation to win the 22nd annual Lebanon County Boys’ Scholastic Tennis team title. The Falcons just played like they did.
On Monday afternoon at Cedar Crest High School, the Falcons returned to a familiar perch atop the team standings at the local championship of boys’ high school tennis, thanks in part to the performances of singles’ players Nick Tull and Jack Muriaka. Cedar Crest again won the team championship at an event it has dominated over the years, despite strong showings from teams fielded by Palmyra and Annville-Cleona.
The Falcons’ outright team title was their first in five years. The last two springs Cedar Crest had shared the crown with Elco.
But this time around, with Tull and Muriaka showing the way and the Falcons enjoying representations in all four final matches, Cedar Crest accumulated ten team points, three more than the runner-up Cougars and four more than the Little Dutchmen. The Raiders finished fourth yesterday.
It was the Falcons’ 15th team championship overall, in the 22-year history of the event. Prior to Elco’s crown in 2013, Cedar Crest had won seven straight.
“We walked away with a trophy, so things went well,” said Cedar Crest head coach Mike Rohrbach. “There are some quality teams in the county. Annville-Cleona played well, and Palmyra is ranked ahead of us (in the District Three power rankings). Even though we didn’t win it outright the last two years, it was nice to get it back today.
“You can take away successes if you don’t win a trophy,” continued Rohrbach. “But where we’ve been the last two years, we needed to win the trophy. Nick and Jack played well. Those team points were crucial to holding up the trophy, or giving it to Annville-Cleona or Palmyra.”
Neither Tull or Muriaka surrendered a game in their final matches, on the ways to championships at Number One and Number Two singles, respectively. Tull, a senior, swept Annville-Cleona’s Julian DyReyes-Kapp 6-0, 6-0 to claim the title of Lebanon County’s top scholastic boys’ player – a title a Cedar Crest player has earned 12 times in the event, including the last ten in-a-row.
Muriaka, a promising freshman, whitewashed Elco’s Mason Bennetch, 6-0, 6-0.
“I thought we had a really great shot at (Numbers) One-Two,” said Rohrbach. “Nick and Jack are really strong singles’ players. They needed to take care of business. Doubles was the big question.
“Since 2012, we haven’t had four entries in the finals,” added Rohrbach. “You’ve got to play great tennis to do that. Our singles players were playing their third match of the day. Sometimes tired legs play into that. But Annville-Cleona and Palmyra have deep teams.”
Against DyReyes-Kapp, Tull hit his ground strokes well, ripped his backhand and came to the net effectively. He played well on his serve, and broke his opponents’ just as frequently.
“The Annville-Cleona kid played really well,” said Rohrbach of DyReyes-Kapp. “If someone came up to the court and didn’t know the score, they wouldn’t think it was an 0 and 0 match. The score didn’t reflect the quality of the points.
“Jack is a number-one player in the number-two flight,” Rohrbach continued. “That’s his job – to go out and impose his influence on the number-two flight.”
Muriaka’s finals match with Bennetch actually took less time to complete than Tull’s with DyReyes-Kapp. There were even fewer rallies and Muriaka’s points were more decisive.
“The other kids played at a high level, but it looked like our kids were ready,” said Rohrbach. “Sometimes when you win the first set 6-0, it’s easy to let down. Credit to Nick and Jack for keeping their foot on the gas pedal. They finished the deals.”
The Falcons met with much more resistance in the doubles’ finals, and with a lot less success, as well.
At Number One doubles, the championship went to Little Dutchmen Santi Paris and William Klatchko. After dropping the first set, Paris-Klatchko rallied for a marathon 2-6, 6-2, 11-9 triumph.
At Number Two doubles, the Palmyra team of Stephen Wango and Quinn Marcus walked away with the shiniest hardware. Wango and Marcus notched a straight-set triumph over Falcons Chris Hilty and Evan Dissinger, but it wasn’t easy – 6-4, 6-3.
“This is the first time we had beautiful weather like this,” said Rohrbach. “It was nice to see all the schools supporting their classmates. It’s a nice event, to get together and showcase the tennis talent in the county. There was a lot of positives happening, for all the teams.”
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1995: Cedar Crest
1996: Cedar Crest
1997: Cedar Crest
1998: Cedar Crest
1999: Annville-Cleona/ Palmyra
2001: Cedar Crest
2006: Cedar Crest
2007: Cedar Crest
2008: Cedar Crest
2009: Cedar Crest
2010: Cedar Crest
2011: Cedar Crest
2012: Cedar Crest
2014: Elco, Cedar Crest
2015: Elco, Cedar Crest
2016: 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
2001: 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 Muriaka – CC
2014: Colin Muriaka – CC
2015: Colin Muriaka – CC
2016: Nick Tull – CC