ORWIGSBURG Except for the champion, the grim reality for every other team that competes in the playoffs of its sport is the fact that their season will end in defeat.
For a favorite to lose, it might be a crushing blow.
Upon an underdog's loss, however, there still may remain a sense of satisfaction.
This was the prevailing mood of the Jim Thorpe girls' seventh-seeded tennis team despite falling 4-0 to second-seeded Blue Mountain (16-2) yesterday in the quarterfinals of the District 11 playoffs.
"Put it this way," said 20-year head coach Norb Lienhard, "After we went 3-12 last year, how could I expect this group to make the playoffs? All season they gave me outstanding effort and they never quit on a match, even today against a powerhouse like Blue Mountain."
The Lady Olympians started the match strongly with early edges in two of the three singles and in one of the doubles matches. In the first singles, Blue Mountain's Aubrey Abel, who finished second in the District 11 Singles Tournament, defeated Jim Thorpe junior, Gabbie Binder, 6-1, 6-0. In the second singles, Thorpe's senior, Bryanna Kehrli had a spirited game against the Eagles' Julia Hahn. Kehrli won the first set, 6-1, with power serves and corner shots after long back and forth volleys and was ahead 2-1 in the second set when their match was suspended. In playoff tennis, as soon as one team wins three matches, any match that is still in progress is suspended and called a "no contest." Yesterday, several of the matches ended almost simultaneously so four were fully completed.
"It's a shame," said Lienhard. "Bryanna was on her game, especially with her serve. She's always had a great first powerful first serve, but many times her second would be soft. Through her hard work, all of her serves have become power shots and that was evident today as she kept her opponent off balance."
"I told Coach Lienhard to count her match as a win," said Eagles' coach Mark Abel. "I don't agree with the playoff rule that their game shouldn't count even though it was put in to prevent a needless injury from occurring."
In the third singles, Jim Thorpe's Haley Cope lost, 6-1, 6-3 to Lauren Haupt. Thorpe's first double's team, Minke Pheiffer and Maria Donati lost 6-1, 6-3. In the second doubles, Olympian sophomores, Hope Damian and Emily Laden took an early lead, but were defeated by the more experienced Eagles' tandem of junior Sam Ross and senior, Natalie Koury, 6-3, 6-0.
"This was a wonderful season for us," said Lienhard, whose last team to qualify for the playoffs was in 2007. The girls gave 100 percent all year and even came back to win some contests when they were behind."
Blue Mtn. 4, Jim Thorpe 0
Aubrey Abel (BM) def. Gabbie Binder 6-1, 6-0. Bryanna Kehrli (JT), 6-1, 2-1 (suspended); Lauren Haupt (BM) def. Haley Cope 6-1,6-3.
Alexa Hahn/Lucia Field (BM) def. Maria Donati/Minke Pheiffer 6-1, 6-3; Sammy Ross/Natalie Koury (BM) def. Hope Damian/Emily Laden 6-3, 6-0.