ALLENTOWN - While the expectations may have been different, the results were ultimately the same for Palmerton and Pleasant Valley.
The Palmerton duo of Tyler Snyder and Spencer Shigo entered the quarterfinals of the District 11 Class AA doubles tennis tournament on Saturday with quite a challenge ahead of them, as the tandem geared up to face the tournament's No. 1 seed of Madhav Sekar and Zach Shaff from Moravian Academy. The Bombers' pair gave it all they had, but it just wasn't enough, as they fell in straight sets, 6-0, 6-2.
The Pleasant Valley tandem of Jon Walbach and Jon White, on the other hand, had high hopes on the Class AAA side of the tournament, as the team entered with the No. 3 seed and a favorable matchup against Emmaus' Ryan Jaeger and Mike Hensler, the No. 6 seed. White and Walbach fell behind early in the first set, but rallied to take what appeared to be a commanding 4-2 lead.It wouldn't last long though, as Emmaus stormed back to push the set into a tiebreaker, which the Hornets' eventually won, 7-6 (7-5). That momentum carried into the second set, as the team of Jaeger and Hensler cruised to a 6-1 decision, clinching a win and a spot in the semifinals.
The Bombers' Tyler Snyder was frank when summing up his opponents afterwards.
"I think they were just stronger all around," Snyder said. "We were trying to beat them on gimmicks and tricks, just to keep them off-balance, but it didn't work."
Shigo agreed that the matchup was tough, but felt he and Snyder had the right attitude heading into the contest and gained a lot from playing such a high level of competition.
"We were positive the whole time," Shigo said. "It's a tough situation, but we made the most of it.
"It's an honor to be here, and even to play against Moravian in the quarters is still a pretty cool experience."
The appearance speaks volumes about how far the Palmerton tennis program has come over the last few years, which is something that isn't lost on Snyder or Shigo.
"I'm proud of our team as a whole," Snyder said. "We're not known to be a tennis school, but we really turned it around this year and that's something we've been trying to do for a couple of years now."
Shigo echoed his playing partner's sentiments.
"I would second that," Shigo remarked. "From where the program was a few years ago when we had that one season (2011) when our team disbanded, to now we have a team that has a .500 record, people are in districts and we're winning matches, it's awesome."
Palmerton coach Alex Knoll had an equal amount of praise for his players and for what they were able to accomplish in the tournament.
"I'm just proud of them that they made it this far and they gave it their all," Knoll said of his players. "Moravian won that match, it wasn't us giving it to them. Moravian hit a lot of good shots.
"Our guys were overpowered, there's no doubt about that. But my guys tried their best and they came in with a positive attitude. Making it this far is a huge accomplishment for us as Palmerton tennis and I couldn't be more proud of them."
Pleasant Valley's Jon Walbach and Jon White certainly weren't overpowered against Emmaus, but the duo came undone after dropping an early lead in the first set, which led to their downfall in the second.
"I was just kind of rattled," Walbach said of dropping the first set tiebreaker. "As we started to be able to close it out, I started to play too tentative, missing volleys and not going for it and that's what kind of messed it up."
White agreed that the two may have hurried to close out the first set, which ended up costing them.
"I don't know if it was so much what they did, I think we rushed it a little bit," White said. "We felt good coming back on those two games and we took the lead.
"And then we got a little lazy, maybe, and kind of rushed shots, tried to put them away a little too fast and it resulted in errors. I think it was mostly us."
For a team of underclassmen playing together for the first time this season, there's no reason to think the duo can't atone for the loss next year.Pleasant Valley coach Mark Allison sees a bright future for the Bears' tandem.
"The good part is that they're both underclassmen," Allison noted. "So they can learn from this and come back even stronger next year."