On a day in which the Lehighton tennis team was without its No. 1 singles player, Pleasant Valley took full advantage and served up a victory.
Kevin Peer, Justin Kemmerer and Dan Galante each won their respective singles matches and led the Bears to a 5-2 Mountain Valley Conference victory over the Indians.
"I thought our singles came out and played really well," said Pleasant Valley head coach Mark Allison. "All three of them seemed to take control of their matches.
"I thought our No. 4 doubles (team of Vince Voulo/Joe Osinski) played well also. We had some doubles teams struggle either with a sickness or an injury, but overall I am pretty pleased."
Peer, the Bears' No. 1 singles player, defeated Lehighton's Nick Mantz, 6-1, 6-2.
"It was a good match," said Peer. "I looked at his weaknesses and just tried to exploit them. I brought him up to the net. It seemed like he had trouble with approach shots.
"When I have never played against a player such as (Mantz), I try to develop a game-plan as I am playing. I try to analyze the player and see what he can do well and what he has trouble with."
2010 marks Peer's second full season as the boys' No. 1 singles player. He has had some big shoes to fill, as the previous No. 1 singles player in Jarrett Siwiec is regarded by Allison as the school's greatest tennis player of all-time.
"Jarrett was my mentor and my idol," said the junior who is currently 3-2 on the year. "I try to talk to him all the time. If I have a bad match, I will go to him and see what advice he can give me.
"There is definitely some added pressure because he was one of the best. All the kids in school know about him and kind of expect the same from me. I aspire to be as good as him, but tennis is such a mental game. There are some days where I just have to have a better mentality."
Unfortunately for Lehighton and head coach Dave Sherry, they were without their every day No. 1 singles player in James Sverchek. Sverchek is currently across seas visiting his sister.
"Losing your No. 1 player throws everyone off," said Sherry. "Everyone else has to then move up and play where they may not be comfortable playing. It's tough when you are low on numbers and lose one of your better kids."
Kemmerer and Galante followed Peer's lead. The two won their singles matches 6-2, 6-0 and 6-1, 6-1 respectively. Also winning matches for the Bears were the doubles teams of Andy Russo/Zach Kemmerer and Vince Voulo/Joe Osinski.
The Indians' two victories came from two doubles teams. Mantz and Justin Ziegenfus teamed up as the No. 1 group and won their pro-set 8-1. The other win came thanks to Stephanie Slaw and Shane Eckman. They split the first two sets 7-6 (7-5) and 2-6, but then won the third set (played as a tie-breaker) 7-4.
Although Lehighton lost, Sherry is excited about how the future of the program is shaping up.
"There was a time not long ago when we lost 6-0, 6-0," said Sherry. "It seemed like we were one shot and done all the time.
"Now we have a bunch of juniors and sophomores that are starting to compete very well. The next two or three years are looking very promising."
Pleasant Valley improves to 3-2 (3-1) with the win. While he is happy with the way the season has started, Allison knows his team must continue to get better.
"I am happy with the way things have gone so far," said Allison. "We have gotten off to a pretty good start this year.
"We can still get better though. We have a lot of new kids in new positions. I am happy with our start, but there is always room for improvement."
Pleasant Valley 5, Lehighton 2
Kevin Peer (PV) def. Nick Mantz, 6-1, 6-2; Justin Kemmerer (PV) def. Kirk Arner, 6-2, 6-0; Dan Galante (PV) def. Justin Ziegenfus, 6-1, 6-1.
Nick Mantz/Justin Ziegenfus (L) def. Ryan Enste/James Spinola, 8-1; Andy Russo/Zach Kemmerer (PV) def. Deb Lobien/Jess Lobien, 6-4, 6-4; Stephanie Slaw/Shane Eckman (L) def. Tom Park/Bryan Baumgartner, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, (7-4); Vince Voulo/Joe Osinski (PV) def. Jen Everett/Jeff Newman, 6-3, 6-0.