The spring sports season is officially underway for Elizabethtown Area High School, and the boys tennis team had the honor of kicking things off. Unfortunately for them, their season started on a down note, with a 7-0 home loss to Hempfield on Monday, March 19.
“Considering that it was Hempfield, I think it went really well,” head coach Brenda McBride said. “I was really proud of how the boys played. A lot of times in tennis, the score doesn’t actually reflect how close a match was in competitiveness. I felt like a lot of them had really great rallies. The better player just ended up coming out with the win.”
Though the scores seemed lopsided, Elizabethtown actually held its own throughout the majority of their matches. Sophomore Ethan Hown was particularly impressive, playing Hempfield’s Ben Cooke very closely despite losing their single bout 6-2, 6-2.
“I felt like Ethan did really well,” McBride said. “He just got better as the match went along as he got used to his pace and settled down. That was a perfect example of Hempfield having super long rallies. Cooke had to work for every single point. Ethan lost 6-2, 6-2, which doesn’t look like it’s that close, but when you watch the match, every rally was a hard-fought rally.”
Competing hard in spite of coming up short was the theme of the day for Elizabethtown. Sophomore Ben Erickson was beaten 6-1, 6-1 by Rishia Pandey, senior Logan Hoover lost 6-1, 6-0 to Nishant Balepur and junior Chris Gartley was bested 6-0, 6-0 by Dillon Otto.
The doubles matches were much of the same. Lown and Hoover were swept 8-0 by Cooke and Pandey. Erickson and Gartley fell 8-3 to Balepur and Adeet Parikh, while sophomores Jimmy Overmoyer and Ben Oyler lost 8-2 to Otto and Alexander Cooke.
“That’s how it was,” Mc-Bride said. “They were just stronger than us. They had a little more pace and stronger serves than what we’re used to. It just throws off your timing. They also had better placement and depth. All that just went all the way down the ladder.”
There’s no shame in losing to Hempfield, however. They won the Lancaster-Lebanon League team championship last season, as well the District 3 team and doubles titles. They’re likely to be in contention during the postseason again this time around, so Elizabethtown can at least take some cues from the experiences against them.
“They just have a tradition of strong tennis,” Mc-Bride said. “Socioeconomically, they are close to indoor courts, so they have the opportunity to take private lessons year-round. We do too, but it’s just not as convenient for us since it’s a 30-minute drive. A lot of their kids start- ed playing when they were young. They’ve been training their whole lives, and that’s how you get to that level of tennis. A lot of our boys don’t play year-round. It takes a lot to compete with Hempfield.”
Elizabethtown’s next match was scheduled at home again on Wednesday, March 21, against Penn Manor. Snow has put a damper on that, however. The team had to previously postpone their first two matches of the season against Donegal and Lancaster Country Day to April due to weather.
“We’ll be going indoors for practice on Tuesday because of the snow,” McBride said with a chuckle. “I know Penn Manor has a new head coach, so I’m expecting them to be a little bit stronger then they’ve been in the past. We beat them pretty easily last year, but with a new coach, they might be a lot better. I’m expecting a good, more evenly matched match. I don’t want to get overconfident.”