ALLENTOWN - For three TIMES NEWS area tennis players, it was their first chance to compete in the District 11 Class AA Singles Tournament.
It might not have been the way that Jim Thorpe's Kasey Herman and Gabbi Binder and Tamaqua's Nicki Mateyak wanted their first appearance at the single-elimination tournament to end. All three found a positive in it, however after they all ended up being eliminated after one round of play.
After the local trio left West End Racquet and Fitness Club yesterday afternoon, they all pretty much reiterated the same words - "a good experience."
It wasn't Herman's first trip to a district tourney though, as she played in the doubles' tournament a year ago. Still, the junior Olympian was the first to speak those ultimate words.
"It was just a good experience," Herman said. "Even though I lost, I had a good time. It was a lot of fun. It was good because I will be back next year. I know I will be back next year."
Herman was the first of the locals to bow out when she fell victim to Saucon Valley's Kendall Kramer, 6-3, 6-1.
It was shortly after Herman made her way over to watch her teammate Gabbi Binder that she herself was shaking hands at the net with her opponent, Allentown Central Catholic's Caroline Bondi.
Bondi got the better end of the deal with her first district win. She earned the rights to move on with a 7-6 (7-5 tie-breaker), 6-0 victory over the Olympian freshman.
Regardless of the setback, Binder pretty much echoed her upperclassmen's remarks.
"Being a freshman, I didn't know quite what was going on yet," Binder said. "I'm actually proud of myself anyways for getting this far into the season. This was a great experience.
"Now, that I know first hand, next year I will know what is coming with this experience, so I probably will do a lot better than this time."
It looked as if the Blue Raiders' Mateyak may have a chance to be the lone local player to advance to the second round and have a chance to play another match. Her opponent, Wilson's Jani Swiatek, however, staged a comeback and rebounded to score a 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 win.
Mateyak, who played No. 1 doubles during the regular season last year for the Blue Raiders, closed it all out by remaining along the same lines as Herman and Binder.
"It was a good experience for me," Mateyak said. "It was fun. I played a great girl. She just beat me, so she deserves it. She played really well.
"Being No. 1 singles is tough, but it's fun. It's different from doubles, so I'll get used to it and I should improve by next year."
While Binder has three more chances at the district tournament ahead of her yet, Herman stated she'll take in this year's experience to help better her chances as a senior next season.
"I thought I could have done better today," Herman said. "I know I could have done better. But I played a lot of seniors this year and they were like really good.
"So, I really hope that I can be that good next year myself and I can take this experience I had this year as No. 1 (singles) and put it into next year too."