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When he last played, he was a wide-eyed college student. This time around, he was a full-grown adult male.

It may be that Ryan Mellinger’s tennis game took on a little seasoning over that span.

On Thursday evening, Mellinger celebrated his return to the 49th annual Mount Gretna Men’s Club tennis tournament by copping the championship of the hallowed event. The third-seeded Mellinger notched a 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 triumph over top seed and defending champion Mike Lesko in the title match.

The 37-year-old Mellinger, who hadn’t competed in the event in 15 years, won five straight games early in the third and decisive set to settle the back-and-forth affair. Mellinger’s five-game winning streak came at a time when it appeared elusive momentum was squarely in Lesko’s corner.

The first set was on serve at 3-2, when Mellinger broke Lesko to assume a two-game advantage. Mellinger then held his next two service games to close out the set.

sportsbuzzPlaying with partner Dave Wolfe, Mellinger also finished second in the doubles competition. Mellinger and Wolfe absorbed a 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 loss to Colin Muriaka and Jack Muraika in final doubles’ match.

Mellinger had reached the championship match with a  6-2, 3-6, 6-2 semifinal triumph over number-two seed Jackson Muriaka.

– Jeff Falk

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