Ben Clary is on a mission. It is a mission to become the absolute best tennis player he can be.
It is a mission that has always been linked to Jack Muriaka.
On Friday night, Clary defeated Muriaka to earn the singles’ championship of the 51st annual Mount Gretna Men’s Tennis Club’s prestigious tournament. Clary captured the first of the three-set final match 6-2, before Muriaka retired due to an oblique injury.
It was the Palmyra High School junior-to-be’s first singles’ title at Mount Gretna. It also avenged a straight-set loss to Muriaka in last year’s Gretna championship match.
It was also a different result than May’s District Three Class AAA semifinal scholastic match, which was won by Muriaka, a student at Cedar Crest. Clary’s rivalry with Muriaka can be traced to his freshman season at the Lebanon County Scholastic Championships, and the friendly rivals have met in a handful of important matches since.
At the Lebanon County tournament, Clary and Muriaka have split their last two championship meetings.
Also this spring, Clary was crowned the Mid-Penn Conference’s Class AAA singles’ champion for the second straight season. Over the past two scholastic regular seasons, the hard-stroking righthander has not dropped a match.
– Jeff Falk