Lux falls in D-11 semifinals
NANCY SCHOLZ/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Jim Thorpe's Sam Lux reaches to return a shot against Allentown Central Catholic's Labario Obeid during the District 11 Class AA tennis semfinals.
SOUTH WHITEHALL TOWNSHIP Four and a half hours of tennis is a lot on any day under any conditions.
With District 11 tournament hopes riding on each match and with the tempurature rising near 90 degrees Saturday on West End Racquetball Club's macadam courts, it turned out to be just a little too much tennis for Sam Lux.
The Jim Thorpe senior fell in the semifinals of the Class AA District 11 Tournament, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 to Central Catholic's Labario Obeid.
"He just ran out of gas today," said Jim Thorpe head coach Norb Lienhard. "That's what happened. He had a long first match in this heat."
Lux, athe No. 3 seed in the tournament, went three sets in his quarterfinal match earlier in the day, beating No. 6 seen Madhav Valla of Moravian Academy 6-3, 3-6, 6-2. While that match lasted two and a half hours, Obeid disposed of his quarterfinal opponent in two quick sets.
After a 30-minute break and a short warm up, Lux fell behind 0-2 to Obeid without winning a point in the first two games of the semifinal. He bounced back, winning the next six games to take the first set, 6-2.
Obeid came back to take the next two sets, 6-4, 6-3 and advance to Monday's final.
"The first match I was the last one on the court," Lux said. "The second one I'm the last one on the court. I just kind of ran out of steam."
It was the second time the two met this season. Obeid won their regular season meeting, but Lux didn't play his best game that day.
"I was looking forward to the rematch," he said. "I thought I could have beat him, but my head went away little bit in the second and third sets there and he came out on top."
Lux felt he had a shot at beating anyone in the field. A year ago he was the No. 1 seed, but drew Shanore James in the first round, an unseeded and somewhat unknown player who went on to win last year's district title.
This year Lux proved he could play with the top Class AA players in the district, but he was hoping to show he could beat them.
"I really wanted to win," he said. "I thought I had a good shot at winning."
Lux will play in next week's district doubles tournament and team districts the week after that. The end of a great high school career isn't far off. He went 12-2 in the regular season, losing only to Obeid and Southern Lehigh's Eric Perez, a Class AAA finalist.
"He meant the world to this program," said Lienhard. "He brings a winning attitude with him all the time. He did real well in getting where he is. He worked hard all year long to get to hard all year long to get to this point."
Another area player, Northwestern's Cory Billig, also made it to the second day of the singles tournament.
Although his school doesn't have a tennis team, Billig held his own against some of the top players who have been competing in team matches for the past two months.
Saturday his tournament came to an end with a 6-2, 7-5 loss to Wilson's Mikchael Nester, the No. 4 seed in the tournament.
"I wish I could have been a little more patient because he really didn't do anything special," Billig said. "He just kind of pushed the ball. I was missing a lot of shots that I usually make."
After losing the first set and falling behind 4-0 in the second, Billig did his best to turn the momentum around.
The Tiger sophomore reeled off the next four games. He was tied 5-5 in the second set before Nexter finished off the match.
"I was pretty determined because I was in the same situation yesterday," he said. "I was down 5-3 and I won that set 7-6. I knew I could do it but in the end I was just too tired."
Billig is used to USTA tournaments in which he doesn't usually play back to back days. The district quarterfinal was his third match in two days.
Those three matches are valuable experience for next season. With all four semifinalist, who happened to be the top four seeds, graduating this year, Billig could be a title contender next season.
"I feel like I'll be one of the contenders next year," he said. "I think I'll be ready for the weather. This second day was really hot. I wasn't expecting it. I guess I'll have to do more conditioning."