Despite being awarded the No. 1 overall seed in last year's District 11 AA tennis tournament, Sam Lux's run at the title was short-lived.
Lux fell to Catasauqua's Shanore James, 7-6, 7-5, in what was somewhat of a controversial pairing. Since Catty did not field a team during the year, James had no record and was not seeded for the tournament.
James turned out to be much better than his 0-0 record. In fact, James went on to win the tournament and never lost more than four games in any set after facing Lux.
"It is something I still think about," admitted Lux. "I like to think about all of my losses and see what I could have done different. I still had my opportunities to win the match. I thought I matched up with him well. He just played better than me that day.
"The way I look at it now is that I would have had to have gone through him anyway whether it was the first round or the championship. Unfortunately, I faced him in the first round."
This Tuesday, Lux was given the No. 3 seed and will face Stephen Rossi (4-10) from Bethlehem Catholic in the first round. Moravian's Eric Michaelis and Central Catholic's Libario Obeid earned the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds respectively.
Lux got an up-close look at Michaelis on Wednesday, as Jim Thorpe faced off with Moravian in its last match of the season. He went on to win, 6-4, 6-4 and finished the year with a 12-2 record.
Although Lux dropped in seeding from last year to this year, he said it doesn't really matter which seed he has.
"Last year it meant a lot to me," said Lux. "This year it doesn't. I learned my lesson from last year. I am going to have to beat everyone regardless of when I play them.
"It's all about match-ups. Someone may be able to beat a guy easily, whereas another person may have trouble with the same guy. It's really anybody's tournament."
Lux showed an improvement from last year by winning his first 11 matches of the 2010 season. He didn't drop a single set during that stretch and won 132 of a possible 161 games. Furthermore, Lux didn't allow his opponents to win more than two games in either set in eight of those 11 matches.
"Last year I was all about my forehand and my serve," Lux said. "This year I think my backhand is better and that I pretty much have no weaknesses from the baseline. I've also tried to get my second serve more consistent so I can really go at it with my first."
In order to win district gold, Lux will have to win five consecutive matches. He wouldn't face a seeded player until the quarterfinals (sixth seed). Even though Lux didn't go deep into last year's tournament, he knows what it takes to win big matches as proven by Wednesday's victory.
"It would mean a lot to me if I were to win this tournament," said Lux. "I have been focusing on it the whole year. This is why I practice and hit all of those balls over the summer. I feel I have put enough effort into it to have a good shot."
Jim Thorpe will have two other members in the tournament as well. Ironically, they will be playing against other local opponents. Zach Ligenza will match up with Northwestern's Cory Billig, while James Denny will face off with Lehighton's James Sverchek.
Also participating in this year's tournament is Palmerton's Devon Frey and Tamaqua's Matt Hadesty. Oddly enough, Lux is the only local player in the bottom half of the bracket. The other six are in the top half.
ZONED IN .... Over the last week, several local baseball and softball players have been "in the zone."
Palmerton's Christian Marcin led the way with a TN best 5-for-5 performance in a 9-7 loss to Palisades yesterday, while teammate Tyler Hahn followed right behind him by collecting four hits in four trips to the batter's box.
Northern Lehigh's Matt Gill and Northwestern's Payton Bachman both had perfect 4-for-4 performance Wednesday afternoon as well, but both of their's came in wins Northern Lehigh beat Salisbury, 11-9, while Northwestern knocked off Notre Dame (GP), 15-5.
Northern Lehigh's Jake Kern recorded a 4-for-4 effort on Saturday in a 5-4 loss to North Schuylkill.
Lehighton's Tyler Hill had an unbelieavble day on the mound as well as at the plate last Thursday. Hill recorded four hits in four plate appearances in a 13-6 victory over Pocono Mountain West. Hill also earned the win on the mound by striking out 12 Panthers.
GOING YARD .... Marian's Drew Sherkness has homered in four straight games while Panther Valley's Jeff Corby and Northwestern's Adam Wehr both connected for a pair home runs in the same game.
Sherkness poked a two-run homer yesterday in a 15-0 victory over Weatherly. He also homered against Williams Valley, Tri-Valley and Nativity in the Colts' prior three games.
Corby connected for a three-run dinger in the first inning and then latered drilled a solo shot in the sixth in a 10-4 win over North Schuylkill. Wehr poked his in the same exact innings a two-run shot in the first and then a solo in the sixth as Northwestern routed Notre Dame, 15-5..
COACHING MILESTONE ..... Erv Prutzman has been coaching the game of baseball at Northern Lehigh for more than three decades.
Prutzman spent 31 years as an assistant to retired Bulldogs' mentor Frank Carazo. Four years ago, he decided to take over the reigns as the program's head coach from his long time friend. As an assistant, Prutzman patrolled the first base line and called pitchings signals for the better part of 273 victories.
Now, thanks to a 11-9 Colonial League victory over Salisbury yesterday, Prutzman earned his 27th victory as a head coach, which helped him experience 300 victories as a Bulldogs' baseball coach.
ON GOAL ..... Last Saturday, Jordyn Homyak was all the Lehighton girls' soccer team needed to score its first win of the season.
Homyak scored all three goals in a 3-1 victory over non-conference opponent, Catasauqua.