ALLENTOWN – Pleasant Valley's valiant comeback bid met a cruel fate in the opening round of the District 11 Class AAA Doubles Tennis Tournament on Thursday.
The Bears' top doubles team of Lauren Heckelman and Sara Elmontacir were routed 6-1 by Nazareth's Cayleah Markulics and Sinmi Opeyemi in the opening set.
But Pleasant Valley bounced back to win the second set, 6-4.
That's where a combination of bad luck and what Pleasant Valley coach Mark Allison called a "questionable decision" came into play.
High school tennis matches are normally played in a best-of-three set format. But because yesterday's rain forced the matches at West End Racquet and Fitness Center to be played on their eight indoor courts instead of their 11 outdoor courts, a decision was made to play a 10-point super tiebreaker instead of a tie-breaking third set.
The Bears quickly fell behind 4-0 in the tiebreaker and never recovered, losing 10-4.
"I really wasn't happy with the decision to play the super tie-breaker instead of a third set," said Allison. "I'm not saying that just because we lost it, either.
"The coaches were informed of that decision when we checked in with our teams and I thought it was a bad decision as soon as I heard it. We play three sets all season long. I don't think the District tournament is the place to make that kind of change."
Allison said he knows why the decision was made but he just doesn't agree with it.
"I know they had fewer courts inside, but I thought the fact that they started playing earlier than the scheduled 1 p.m. start time was enough to make up for that," he explained.
Allison's worst fears materialized when his team found itself in an early hole in the tiebreaker.
"You're in big trouble when you fall behind 4-0 in a 10-point game," Allison said. "That puts a lot of pressure on you. On the other hand, if you're playing an entire set and lose the first four points, you're just one game down and you know you have lots of time to come back.
"I don't want to take anything away from Nazareth. They played very well. I just feel bad for Lauren and Sara. I would have liked to see them get a shot to go the distance in a third set."
Despite his disappointment over how Heckelman and Elmontacir lost, Allison said he was extremely pleased with how his team battled.
"They looked a little nervous in the first set," said Allison. "But once they calmed down they played very well.
"They have nothing to be ashamed of. I'm pleased with their effort today and their play this entire season."
The opening day of the tournament saw six of the eight seeded teams advance, including the top five seeds.
Among the seeded teams that posted two victories and advanced to Saturday's quarterfinals were No. 1 seed Brittany Poje and Kaitlyn Poje of East Stroudsburg South; No. 2 seed Jenna Peng and Tuquyen Pham of Parkland; No. 3 seed Julie Boylan and Flannery Johnson of Freedom; No. 4 seed Jess Wain and Ashley Jones of Bangor; No. 5 seed Darby McCall and Brittany Hodge of Northampton and No. 8 seed Nina Bajwa and Juls Marks of Parkland.
The two unseeded teams to advance were Avery McCall and Maureen Weaver of Northampton and Alyssa Boyd and Stephanie Mark of Liberty.
Quarterfinals and semifinals will be played Saturday at West End beginning at 1 p.m. Finals and consolations are Monday.