ALLENTOWN All season long the Jim Thorpe and Tamaqua girls' tennis players compete for the sake of school pride.
That's a sole motivator since those programs can't compete for any type of league championship. The same mentality carries over into the District 11 Class 2A postseason.
On Friday afternoon, the Olympians' Gabbie Binder, Bryanna Kehrli and Haley Cope and the Blue Raiders' Sarah Zoba, Maddie Dolinsky and Carly Fenstermacher represented their schools with smiles in the midst of the District 11 Class 2A Singles' Tournament.
Regardless of the fact that all six girls dropped First Round setbacks yesterday afternoon, Jim Thorpe head coach Norb Lienhard didn't see the attitude change after one match of play in the district tournament.
"Like my assistant coach (Janet Farra) said to me, none of them embarrassed anybody from Jim Thorpe," Lienhard said. "They represented Jim Thorpe well. They tried their best.
"Gabbie came back in her second set. She needed a point here or there. Haley went down in a three set tie breaker. Bryanna just lost two straight sets, but the girl ran her around. She kept hustling until the very end.
"There was no quit in them no matter what. That happened all year long. There was no quit in them."
Binder was the first to taste defeat on the day. As coach said, Binder, the Olympians' No. 1 singles' player, came back in the second set, but still had to see her first district singles' tourney come to an end early after suffering a 2-6, 5-7 loss to Central Catholic's Sabrina Edward.
Cope was the lone local TIMES NEWS player to be able to push her opponent, Palisades' Lucia Garzon, to the limits a third-set tiebreaker. Garzon returned the favor, handing Cope a 6-4, 2-6, 6-10 setbacks after the Olympians' No. 3 singles' player knocked her off during the regular season.
In her return trip to district singles', Kehrli experienced the same outcome. A year ago, it was to a Lehigh Valley Conference player. This year, it was to Devin Presby, a Colonial League player, who handed the Olympians' No. 2 singles' player a 1-6, 0-6 setback.
It didn't get any easier for Tamaqua head coach Jennel Yelito's trio of Blue Raiders.
Dolinsky, the Blue Raiders' No. 2 singles' player, was forced to play No. 3 seeded Aubrey Abel, of Blue Mountain, who was also last year's singles' play runner-up. Abel rolled to a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Dolinsky.
"She didn't know what she was up against," Yelito said. "Aubrey is a very talented player. It's good to play players like that because it makes you see what you want to become and what it takes to become one of the top in the district."
It didn't get any better for Fenstermaker, the Blue Raiders' No. 3 singles' player, as she faced last year's singles' tournament champion Moravian Academy's Kara Chyung. Fenstermaker managed two games, but fell 1-6, 1-6 to Chyung.
Zoba, the Raiders' No. 1 singles' player, returned for another chance at the singles' tournament. And, it ended in the same manner a first round defeat at the hands of Notre Dame of Green Pond's Julia Mowery, who won 6-4, 6-0 over Zoba.
It wasn't the best days for the local individuals, and Yelito chalked it up to a tough draw in the way the bracket laid out.
"We did have a very difficult draw with playing the top two and three seeds and they were in the finals of last year," Yelito said. "We came in and tried to try and give them everything we had. You come in hoping when you play here that you just get the best draw you can. But, we didn't have that this year.
"Our players played really well though. I'm very proud of our seniors, in Sarah and Carly. Carly went to deuce several times and she played very well against the returning champion from last year. I'm very proud of her and Sarah as well for playing all season long for their senior year.
"Although we didn't get a great draw, I think they played as well as they could. They put everything out there on the courts today."