Entering the 2019 season, the Elizabethtown Area High School boys tennis team was expected to make strides off of last year’s 7-9 record. But starting the season with a victory over one of the Lancaster-Lebanon League’s top programs was something else entirely.
Yet the Bears defied expectations, and then some. They came away from their regular season opener at home against Manheim Township on Tuesday, March 12, with a 7-0 sweep. The Blue Streaks finished 10-3 in 2018, making both the L-L and District 3 team playoffs and have been consistently successful for a number of years, so an upset over them is an eye-opener.
“I did not expect a 7-0 sweep,” head coach Brenda McBride said. “I didn’t really know what to expect because when Township says they’re having a rebuilding year, you really don’t know what that means. I woke up this morning feeling like we were gonna win today, but I didn’t want to be overconfident. For our first match, I thought we looked really great. We definitely had the advantage of having a few extra practices. We just had the consistency that we needed, so I’m really pleased with how everybody played.”
Elizabethtown was steady through the doubles portion of the match. Junior Ethan Lown and freshman Trent McBride were able to hold on for an 8-6 win over TJ Kade and Fletcher Henneman, while junior Nacho Bartolome and senior Evan Schneider pulled away to beat Drew Greiner and Alex Quinn 8-4. Senior twins Chris and Jon Gartley dominated in the third game, winning 8-2 over Nick Oster and Dylan Norton.
The Blue Streaks were more competitive in the early stages of the singles portion, but the Bears fought them off at every turn. Lown topped Kade 6-3, 6-1; Bartolome won 6-4, 6-1 over Henneman; Trent McBride beat Greiner 6-4, 6-2; and Schneider got a 6-4, 6-3 victory against Oster. Elizabethtown did not lose a set across the entire match.
“It was an easy coaching day,” Coach McBride said. “I didn’t even have to talk to them at the fence. I just let them do their thing, and they did it. I do try to talk to them in practice, but I want to get them to where they know what they need to do out there strategy wise. All I need to do is to give them a pep talk. They’re out there fighting their own battle for sure.”
The Bears will have their lone match outside of the L-L League on Friday, March 15, at home against Susquehannock. The two teams had similar records last season (the Warriors were 6-7), but this is a different Elizabethtown team. Still, one huge win isn’t guaranteed to lead to more, so the Bears will have to stay focused.
“We just have to take one match at a time,” Coach McBride said. “It’s definitely nice to start the season with a win, but we have to come out and work hard for everything. Hopefully, a lot of them go our direction this season.”