Bears make school history
nancy scholz/special to the times news Pleasant Valley's Emily Thek bends down to return a shot during the District 11 Class AAA Tennis Tournament on Thursday.
ALLENTOWN - For Madison Olexson and Emily Thek, the first round of the District 11 Class AAA Singles' Tournament was a memorable experience.
For Pleasant Valley's No. 1 and No. 2 singles' players, however, the second round was a forgettable one.
Thursday afternoon, Olexson and Thek were able to write another chapter in Pleasant Valley school history by becoming the first Bears duo to advance to the Round of 16 in the singles' tournament in the same year. It was also the first time since Ali Yozwiak accomplished the feat in 2008 that any Pleasant Valley player advanced out of the first round.
Olexson, the reigning TIMES NEWS Girls' Tennis Player of the Year, was happy to improve on her performance in last year's singles' tournament.
A year ago, Olexson's stay in the tournament wasn't that long as she suffered a first round setback. This year, she opened tourney play with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over East Stroudsburg North's Stephanie Lima to reach her goal of making the second round.
At that point, Olexson ran into No. 2 seed Jenna Peng of Parkand, who was last year's Class AAA runner-up. Peng defeated Olexson, 6-1, 6-1.
"I'm really proud that I was able to reach my goal, which was to make it further in districts," Olexson said. "I'm proud of myself, as well as my teammate (Thek) for doing what we did today. I'm also proud of what our team accomplished this year by making it to the District 11 team tournament."
While Olxson was the lone Bear to qualify for the district singles tournament last year at West End Raquet Club, Thek was thrilled to join her teammate this season. The Bear senior savored every minute of her first-ever appearance in the district singles' tournament.
Thek opened with a 4-6, 6-3, 10-6 tiebreaker victory over Bangor's Allison DeSario, who she had lost to during the summer and then beat during the regular season. Thek then fell victim to No. 6 seed Samantha Peterson, of Liberty, 6-4, 6-0.
Still, she was glad to be part of making school history.
"It's been an awesome season, especially since we were the first Pleasant Valley team to win a Mountain Valley Conference tennis title," said Thek, who also set the record for singles' play victories in a season (14). "We broke the school record for wins and we are the first Pleasant Valley team to ever qualify for team districts.
"It was my first year here and I am a senior, so I was glad I was able to qualify for districts and get past the first round. It was a lot of fun."
Fun was something Pleasant Valley head coach Mark Allison stressed to his players.
Prior to their matches, Allison told them there was "no pressure" and to simply "go out and have fun" and they did.
However, Allison had to watch the fun times come to end quickly after his two singles' players made history together.
It was tough to see happen, but it was expected when they both drew tough draws in the second round.
"They got two tough draws," Allison said. "They ran into the No. 1 and No. 2 players in the Lehigh Valley Conference Tournament. The Parkland girl was No. 1 and the Liberty girl was No. 2. So, they ran into the best down here.
"You're going to hit seeded players when you get to the round of 16. It's going to be quality players everywhere. I'm really proud of the way our girls played. I thought they had a good showing down here. I thought they played well even in the losses. I really did."