The regular season is over for the Elizabethtown Area High School boys tennis team. They’ve finished the year at 7-9 and they’ll now prepare for the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs, which begin on Thursday, April 26.
The final stretch began on Thursday, April 19, when the team hosted Warwick, finishing a match that had been halted due to snow on Monday, April 9. The makeup date also had windy weather, so the match ended early with a 5-0 win for Elizabethtown.
Sophomores Ethan Lown and Ben Erickson won in doubles over Garrett Nissley and Jon Martin 8-3. Juniors Tyler Bixler and Jon Gartley got an 8-0 sweep over Jake Simmons and Jack Evans, as did senior Logan Hoover and junior Chris Gartley over Max Davis and Mark Class.
In singles, Lown beat Nissley 6-4, 6-0, while Erickson bested Martin 6-2, 6-1. Chris Gartley was up 6-3 on Class when the match was called, giving him a win as well.
“It’s been so rewarding to watch them improve,” head coach Brenda McBride said. “It’s been frustrating too since we haven’t had a lot of practices, but we were able to get the basics at the beginning of the season, and they just kept getting better. You’d never know that Chris Gartley’s only been playing tennis for two months, and he’s played amazing. Next year’s gonna be even better.”
Another home match came on Friday, April 20, against Manheim Central. Elizabethtown struggled, ultimately losing 6-1. Their lone win came in the doubles portion, as Bixler and Jon Gartley narrowly beat Jacob Bidelman and Tony Stotzfus 9-7.
Otherwise, it was all Manheim Central. Trent Martin and Andrew Rajaratnam topped Lown and Erickson in doubles 8-3, while Silas Eldeen and Hunter Winters won over Hoover and Chris Gartley 8-4. Martin then beat Lown in singles 7-5, 6-1, and Eldeen got a win over Erickson 6-3, 10-7. Hoover lost to Rajaratnam 6-1, 6-4, and Chris Gartley fell to Bidelman 6-2, 6-2.
Elizabethtown picked up another win against Eastern Lebanon County at home on Monday, April 23, in a 4-3 victory. While Lown and Erickson lost a tight doubles match 8-6 to Mason Bennetch and Dawson Smith, Hoover and Chris Gartley picked up an 8-6 win of their own over Ryan Woelfling and Adler Brown, and Jon Gartley and junior Evan Schneider swept Gavin Brown and Cameron Wolgemuth 8-0.
Lown and Erickson recovered in the singles matches, with the former beating Bennetch 7-6, 1-6, 10-5, and the latter topping Smith 6-2, 6-0. Hoover fell to Woelfling 6-2, 6-1, as did senior Owen Evans to Wolgemuth.
Their final match of the regular season came at home on Tuesday, March 24, against Cedar Crest, postponed from Monday, April 16, and replacing a previously scheduled matchup vs. Cocalico. The format changed slightly due to impending rain, with both the singles and doubles matches taking place concurrently, allowing some junior varsity players to get some playing time.
The Bears fell behind 3-0 early, as Lown lost 6-2, 6-1 to Jackson Muraika in singles, as did Hoover to Enzo Emerich6-1, 6-2. Miles Engler and Bradley Hinegardner beat Schneider and Jon Gartley 8-4 in doubles as well.
Elizabethtown came alive down the stretch, however. Bixler and sophomore Jimmy Overmoyer beat Lorenzo Palomino and Gavin Hower 8-6 in doubles, followed by Erickson winning 7-6, 6-3 over Adam Brightbill in singles. Junior Brecken Musser and sophomore Ben Oyler then 8-5 against Brady Miller and John Hayes.
It came down to Chris Gartley and Justin Hilty. Each set went into extras, with Gartley winning the first 7-6, and Hilty taking the second with the same score. In the final bout, Gartley came back from a 9-4 deficit to win 11-9, giving Elizabethtown a 4-3 win.
“Playing this format definitely worked to our advantage,” McBride said. “There were no repeats, so their strong players only played once instead of twice like usual. Our JV team is just full of really great athletes, and they gave us two wins today.”
The team will be spread out for the L-L League Flight Tournaments on Thursday, April 26. Lown will face TomChairs of Manheim Township at Conestoga Valley in the Flight 1 round. Erickson will be up against Miles Durrett of Lancaster Catholic in Flight 2 at Manheim Central. Hoover is also paired with a Lancaster Catholic player, Ross Conway, for Flight 3 at Warwick. Finally, Chris Gartley will have a rematch against Hilty of Cedar Crest in Flight 4 at Ephrata.
All the doubles matches will take place on the same day at Conestoga Valley. Lown and Erickson will play Nicholas Bernard and Bryce Hanna of Penn Manor for Flight 1. Hoover and Chris Gartley will face Brightbill and Hinegardner of Cedar Crest in Flight 2. Bixler and Jon Gartley are up against Hunter Winey and Josh Gingerich of Pequea Valley for Flight 3.
“I think we’re gonna be stronger in doubles,” Mc-Bride said. “Unfortunately, Ethan and Ben both drew No. 2 seeds, so that’s gonna probably gonna be a stopper for them, barring a miracle. In doubles, it’s easier for them to move onto districts, so I’m really excited for them to focus on progressing there.”