POCONO SUMMIT – It was only fitting that Pleasant Valley and Stroudsburg's Mountain Valley Conference championship playoff would come down to the eighth game of the third set of the final match.
With the first six matches of the day being split three apiece, it all came down to the No. 1 doubles match between Pleasant Valley's Vince Voulo/Jon White and Stroudsburg's Jeff Norris/Jimmy Catina. The two teams then traded the first two sets before the Mounties' duo outlasted the Bears in the third set to win the conference tennis championship, 4-3.
"It was close all the way," said Pleasant Valley head coach Mark Allison. "Every match was close and it came down to the No. 1 doubles. That is as close as it gets.
"It reminds me of baseball, when you are down a run in the bottom of the 15th inning with two runners on and you get the hit to drive in the winning runs. It's almost like that in tennis. It is a tough loss, but I am real proud of the kids and the way they played."
After the first couple minutes of play it became apparent that the match was going to be tight throughout. By the time all six games were done with their first set, the score was tied at three apiece.
Jon Walmach, Pleasant Valley's No. 3 singles player, was the first one done and awarded the Bears with the opening point of the day. Despite losing to Stroudsburg's Gage Wyant in his last to meetings (MVC's and last Friday's regular season finale), Walmach knocked off Wyant in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1.
"It feels good to win," said Walmach. "I don't think the score represents how close it was though.
"The past few times I was playing a little nervous and not swinging through the ball. Today I tried to get more top spin and swing through the shots. It seemed to work today."
Stroudsburg would earn the next point when its No. 3 doubles team of Billy Carangelo/Will Lynch defeated Stevie Berry/Mike Hughart, 6-1, 6-1.
The No. 1 singles and No. 2 doubles matches then ended right around the same time with each team earning a point. The Mounties' No. 1 player in Jeff Norris topped Vince Voulo, 6-2, 6-3, while the Bears' doubles team of Kyle Tamaraz/Lou Bravo evened things out with a 6-4, 6-2 victory.
The No. 4 doubles match came to an end shortly after, with Stroudsburg's tandem of Tommy Shaw/Nick Decidue winning in three sets, 6-2, 1-6, 6-3.
That left the No. 2 singles match between White and Catina as Pleasant Valley's last hope of pushing the match to a final doubles match. When the No. 4 doubles match ended and shifted the focus to the singles match, Catina was busy fighting back in the second set to force a tie-break. However, White had already won the first set and had some room to play with. He didn't need it though, as he took the second It then came down to the No. 1 doubles match between each teams' top two singles players.
Pleasant Valley took the first two games of the first set, but would go on to lose the next five and lost 6-3. The Bears' team rebounded quickly though and won the first four games of the second set. Stroudsburg battled back to tie the set at five, but dropped the next two to force a third and final set.
Each team traded the first two games before the Mounties went on to win the next three. They eventually won the match, 6-2.
Pleasant Valley ends its season with a 15-2 overall mark and had a chance at winning its first MVC crown since 2006. All-in-all, Allison thought it was a great year.
"We won three out of the four doubles matches in the last meeting," said Allison. "This time we only won one out of the four. That was probably the difference. I mean all three matches were 4-3. You can't get much closer than that.
"It was a great year. This was one of the best years we have ever had at Pleasant Valley. The best record at PV is 17-2, so we are right there with the best record we have ever had."
Stroudsburg 4, Pleasant Valley 3
Jeff Norris (S) def. Vince Voulo, 6-2, 6-3; Jon White (PV) def. Jimmy Catina, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3); Jon Walmach (PV) def. Gage Wyant, 6-1, 6-1.
Jeff Norris/Jimmy Catina (S) def. Vince Voulo/Jon White, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2; Kyle Tamaraz/Lou Bravo (PV) def. Jimmy Jencarelli/Riley Hagan, 6-4, 6-2; Billy Carangelo/Will Lynch (S) def. Stevie Berry/Mike Hughart, 6-2, 6-1; Tommy Shaw/Nick Decidue (S) def. James Osinski/Jeff Olah, 6-2, 1-6, 6-3.