ALLENTOWN - Jim Thorpe head coach Norb Lienhard and Palmerton head coach Alex Knoll were both satisfied upon receiving the news that six athletes from their respective teams would be granted admission into the District 11 Class AA Doubles Tennis Tournament. Both of them had the pleasure of coaching three doubles tandems in the first round of the draw on Thursday, and both of them were content in knowing that their senior-laden teams would have the opportunity to participate in the event.
Despite the similarities between the two coaches and their scenarios entering Thursday's tournament, both had plenty of differences to handle, as the day panned out.
Palmerton's top duo of Tyler Snyder and Spencer Shigo were awarded an eight seed in the draw, the first time a Blue Bomber tennis player received a seeding since 2007, when Matt Berger was the number eight seed in the singles tournament. Snyder and Shigo responded well in sweeping through their first two rounds of opponents to set up a showdown with the tournament's No. 1 seeded Moravian Academy team of Madhav Sekar and Zach Shaff on Saturday afternoon at West End Racquet Club.
Out of the six area teams that got into the draw, Palmerton seniors Shigo and Snyder were the only team to pull off a win on Thursday. They defeated Paul Boraganilli and Paolo Turco of Bethlehem Catholic in the first round 6-2, 6-4, and went on to dispatch of Salisbury's John Bonge and Brendan Reichenbach in the second round by the same 6-2, 6-4 score.
"We talked a lot to each other today and I think that seemed to work well with our game," Snyder said. "At times, we might have beaten ourselves up a little bit too much for mistakes, but we came out of the gates with the intensity from the first round win and played well at first. But then, we rested on our laurels, maybe, and that hurt us."
In both the first and second round, they were tested from their opponents, but eventually relied on each others' strengths to pull through. Snyder's serve and solid net game, along with Shigo's consistently strong groundstrokes, hustle and all-court game were a tough recipe for their foes to figure out.
When looking ahead to Saturday's quarterfinal, Shigo related, "We are just going to have to play to the best of our ability. We have to play with the same intensity every point, because they can definitely beat us with their consistency and other weapons."
As for the rest of the Palmerton team, the pairs of Rich Roselli and Tony Gardo, along with Hunter Roberts and Ty Green, had tough draws and suffered first round losses.
"It's great that all seven guys (Palmerton also had three players qualify for the D-11 Singles Tournament) on the team had a chance to play another match and participate in districts," Knoll stated. "Not only for the experience of playing in the tournament, but also, it keeps them fresh for our match against Notre Dame of Green Pond on Tuesday."
Palmerton will face off against the Crusaders in the District 11 AA Team Tournament on Tuesday in the first round.
Jim Thorpe saw all three of its entries fall in the first round.
Avery Magill and David Castro faced off against Salisbury's Austin Albright and Zach Young and battled evenly through two sets, as the two teams split them to set up a third-set tiebreaker to decide it. The Olympians raced out to a brilliant 5-0 lead, but couldn't hold on as momentum took the Falcon duo past Jim Thorpe for a 10-7 decision.
"Those two were really moving well up at the net and their serving really surprised me today," Lienhard saidd about his team. "But that was a tough match to lose for those guys."
Overall, though, Lienhard was happy with the result.
"This team was full of seniors and it was nice to get them all into the draw," he said. "They all represented Jim Thorpe as well as they could and did so to the best of their ability."
Dalton Becker and Shane Bleicher-Otto dropped their match to the number five seed in the tournament, Zane Pagotto and Jarrett Person from Pen Argyl, 6-3, 6-1. Kyle Lawrence and Lou Squillace lost to Nate Lee and Oliver Blasi from Pen Argyl, 6-2, 6-2.
District 11 AA
FIRST ROUND RESULTS
No. 1 Shaff/Sekar (MA) def. Gardo/Roselli (Palm) 6-0, 6-0; Lee/Blasi (PA) def. Lawrence/Squillace (JT) 6-2, 6-2; Bonge/Reichenbach (Sal) def. Gross/Laliwala (SV) 4-6, 6-1, 10-6; No. 8 Snyder/Shigo def. Boraganili/Turco (BC) 6-2, 6-4; No. 5 Pagotto/Person (PA) def. Bleicher-Otto/Becker (JT) 6-3, 6-1; G. Mowrey/Tucci (NDGP) def. Romero/Peoples (ACC) 6-1, 6-1; Lessig/Reilly (MA) def. Norris/M. Veres (Wil) 6-4, 6-0; No. 4 Hamilton/Rossi (BC) def. Gordon/Regan (ACC) 6-2, 6-1; No. 3 Schoenborn/Grigoruk (ACC) def. S. Veres/Ramos (Wil) 6-3, 6-3; Ott/Marceca (Wil) def. Boris/Miller (BM) 6-4, 6-2; Albright/Young (Sal) def. Magill/Castro (JT) 6-4, 5-7, 10-7; No. 6 Malik/Kramer (MA) def. Mason/Nakajima (SV) 6-1, 6-0; No. 7 Rothermel/Heydt (Sal) def. Smith/Polizzi (PA) 6-2, 6-0; Franekic/Mesko (BC) def. Pace/Ney (BM) 6-1, 6-0; Hahalis/Vidal (SV) def. Green/Roberts (Palm) 6-2, 6-2; No. 2 Antonis/F. Mowrey (NDGP) def. Ma/Brown (MA) 6-1, 6-3.
SECOND ROUND RESULTS
No. 1 Shaff/Sekar (MA) def. Lee/Blasi (PA) 6-1, 6-0; No. 8 Snyder/Shigo (Palm) def. Bonge/Reichenbach (Sal) 6-2, 6-4; G. Mowrey/Tucci (NDGP) def. No. 5 Pagotto/Person (PA) 6-0, 6-3; No. 4 Hamilton/Rossi (BC) def. Lessig/Reilly (MA) 6-4, 6-4; Ott/Marceca (Wil) def. No. 3 Schoenborn/Grigoruk (ACC) 6-4, 7-5; No. 6 Malik/Kramer (MA) def. Albright/Young (Sal) 6-1, 6-1; No. 7 Rothermel/Heydt (Sal) def. Franekic/Mesko (BC) 6-4, 6-3; No. 2 Antonis/F. Mowrey (NDGP) def. Hahalis/Vidal (SV) 6-2, 6-0.