ALLENTOWN Overall number one seed and two-time defending champion Henry Paiste of Northwestern took care of business on the opening day of the District 11 Class AA Tennis Singles Championships. Paiste wasn't the only local highlight, however, as Palmerton also made an impact on the initial day of matches.
Paiste breezed to a pair of easy victories, making quick work of his first and second round opponents. In the process, he lost just one game.
The Northwestern junior was excited to get this tournament underway.
"Every match, you have to go out there and give your best effort," he said. "These kinds of matches can go either way, but if you give 100 percent, you should be able to play your best. I never try to underestimate my opponent, and luckily, today I thought I played really well.
Next up for Paiste is No. 8 seed Henry Rothermel of Salisbury
"I played Rothermel before, and I know I just have to go in there with the same intensity and every point, play my best," he said. "I don't want to look too far ahead because that's when you can get into trouble, so right now, I am just focusing on the next round match."
Paiste's attempt at a three-peat continues Saturday at the West End Racquet Club.
While Paiste early round wins were expected, the surprise of the first day was Palmerton as all three of their athletes made it successfully to the second round of competition.
Seniors Tyler Snyder, Spencer Shigo, and Kevin Dayton all dispatched their first round rivals in straight sets, with the most impressive win coming from Shigo. The Bombers' number two singles player had the roughest draw, in getting the tournament's No. 6 seed in Allentown Central Catholic's Dan Schoenborn. As the match progressed, Shigo's relentless style of consistent play seemed to get to the Viking netter, and his frustration eventually led to his downfall, as he withdrew from the match, with Shigo leading 6-4, 4-4.
Palmerton head coach Alex Knoll praised how well Shigo played and how he remained poised through the controversy.
"(Spencer) really had to play great in the first round today against Schoenborn, and he did exactly that," Knoll said. "Spencer is a great kid and one of the classiest players I've ever seen play the game and I'm glad he moved on."
Snyder defeated Wilson's Scott Marceca, 6-4, 6-4 to advance to the second round.
"I'm so glad that Tyler got the chance to play an opponent that he had a realistic shot of winning against," Knoll said. "Tyler just had to play within himself to win and he did exactly that. His forehand has been progressing lately and he hit it well today and to his advantage."
The Blue Bombers, who feature six seniors in their top seven line-up positions, also received a surprise from Dayton, who defeated Atsuro Nakajima from Saucon Valley to advance to the second round.
"I'm thrilled he had the chance to play with him being a senior and also that he had a chance to play against an opponent that he had a realistic shot of beating," Knoll stated. "He showed he is a great player and he excelled today."
With the three Blue Bombers advancing, it put them in some pretty lofty company, as Notre Dame of Green Pond and Moravian Academy were the only other two schools in the AA bracket that had three or more players get past the initial round of play.
"They all are seniors and they all played hard today," Knoll commended. "They are all dedicated to the program and I'm so glad that they got the chance to play. They played great in the first round and showed great effort in the second round."
Palmerton's wasn't able to advance any of its three players past the second round, however, as Snyder and Dayton both lost to seeded players and Shigo fell to a member of the powerful Moravian Academy team.
Another school that had three players enter the draw this year was Jim Thorpe. However, all three Olympians (Kyle Bacher, Dalton Becker, Lou Squillace) had unfortunate draws against stronger opponents, as they fell in straights. "I'm really happy that all three of them got into the tournament," Jim Thorpe head coach Norb Lienhard mentioned. "All of them are seniors, so this was another day of solid competition for them."
With one more match for the Olympians on their schedule, Lienhard was happy they got to stay in form for that last match. "We have one more against Pottsville and if we win, that puts us at 8-8 on the season, which is a really successful year for us."
District 11 AA Singles
FIRST ROUND RESULTS
#1 Henry Paiste (NW) d. Michael Biffen (NDES) 6-0, 6-0; Kevin Hamilton (BC) d. Kyle Bacher (JT) 6-0, 6-0; Tyler Snyder (Palm) d. Scott Marceca (Wil) 6-4, 6-4; #8 Henry Rothermel (Sal) d. David Mason (SV) 6-2, 6-2; #5 Andrew Ma (MA) d. Collin Boris (BM) 6-0, 6-1; Will Worthington (NDES) d. Chris Ott (Wil) 6-2, 6-4; Pierce Blasi (PA) d. Dalton Becker (JT) 6-2, 6-0; #4 Mike Antonis (NDGP) d. Trevor Gregoruk (ACC) 6-0, 6-0; #3 Madhav Sekar (MA) d. Nate Newborg (Pali) 6-0, 6-1; Giovanni Mowery (NDGP) d. Nate Schriffert (SV) 6-1, 6-3; Kramer (MA) d. Nate Lee (PA) 6-3, 6-3; Spencer Shigo (Palm) d. #6 Dan Schoenborn (ACC) 6-4, 4-4 (ret); #7 Francesco Mowery (NDGP) d. Stephen Rossi (BC) 6-3, 6-0; Ben Heydt (Sal) d. Lou Squillace (JT) 6-0, 6-1; Kevin Dayton (Palm) d. Atsuro Nakajima (SV) 6-3, 6-0; Zach Shaff (MA) d. Oliver Blasi (PA) 6-1, 6-1.
SECOND ROUND RESULTS
#1 Paiste (NW) d. Hamilton (BC) 6-0, 6-1; #8 Rothermel (Sal) d. Snyder (Palm) 6-2, 6-0; #5 Ma (MA) d. Worthington (NDES) 6-2, 6-0; #4 Antonis (NDGP) d. Blasi (PA) 6-0, 6-1; #3 Sekar (MA) d. Mowery (NDGP) 6-1, 6-1; Kramer (MA) d. Shigo (Palm) 6-1, 6-1; #7 Mowery (NDGP) d. Heydt (Sal), 7-5, 6-2; #2 Shaff (MA) d. Dayton (Palm) 6-0, 6-0.