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Bombers down Lehighton in tennis

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    Palmerton’s Nate Andress returns the ball during Tuesday’s match. For a video go to BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS

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    Lehighton’s Aaron Miller follows through after hitting a forehand shot. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS

Published March 20. 2019 12:35PM


Jennifer Danzeisen is promoting learning as an ongoing process as much as she’s advocating tennis as a lifelong sport.

The Palmerton coach knows that evolution won’t happen overnight.

But she watched the Blue Bombers take a big step forward in their growth on Tuesday.

Palmerton earned its first victory of the season, outlasting Lehighton 4-1 in a non-league match.

“This was only their third match, but again, more than half the team has never played tennis before,” said Danzeisen. “They’re still learning the game, they’re still learning how to communicate with each other, so I’m happy with that.

“I’m happy for them, because they’re getting their confidence up, they’re getting better at their strokes, they’re getting better at their serves, and that’s just giving them the confidence to say, ‘Hey, I can do this,’ and that’s what I love. Every match we get better.”

Evidence of that development could be seen in several gritty victories. Lucas Christman grinded out a three-set win at No. 3 singles for the Blue Bombers (1-2), while Hunter Connell and Tim Hillanbrand pulled off a come-from-behind triumph (4-6, 6-3, 7-5) in three sets playing at No. 1 doubles.

Nate Andress, who returns as Palmerton’s No. 1 singles player, posted a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Mark Solt. Brayden Kline and Hailey Hatzis paired up for a win to give the Bombers a sweep of doubles’ play.

“I think we can take a lot of good experience from this,” said Andress. “We have a lot of new players on our team that are still learning, but we should pick it up as we go throughout the season.”

The team’s most experienced player, Andress, has made an impact on the likes of Christman, who is with the squad for the first time.

“I can tell you, just for me, Nate’s a big help,” said Christman. “I play with him over the weekend, and he helps me a lot.

“I was kind of thinking, it’s my first year, so I’m not really expecting to win any. But now that I won one, now I know I actually can.”

While Palmerton, which must replace No. 2 singles player Mattis Willuhn, features several new faces in new places, so too does Lehighton. The Indians (0-1) graduated No. 1 singles player Maura Phelan, and, like the Bombers, are working toward getting their lineup more experience – something they got plenty of in their season opener.

“You should have paid admission for today,” Lehighton head coach Joeseph Zarelli joked. “It was really quite a performance to watch. It was fun to watch. I saw a lot of smiling. I saw a little frustration – competitiveness – which is good.

“I think a lot of my players, a lot of my new players, learned a lot today about match play. It’s really hard to mock that at practice, and once they get out here in a real competition, you could see a change of composure, and just having to play a little more carefully; you can’t just hit every ball as hard as you want. But I thought, for having a lot of beginners, we looked great.”

Freshman Aaron Miller posted a tough 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over Erica Messics playing at No. 2 singles for the Indians.

The match was beneficial for both players, and a microcosm of what the day offered two programs on the rise.

“We had some really long matches, so I’m very pleased with today’s performance overall,” said Zarelli. “I think a lot of the kids grew a lot in one day.”

UP NEXT … Palmerton travels to Bangor today for a Colonial League match, while Lehighton visits Pocono Mountain West.

SHARED EXPERIENCE … With no home court, Lehighton also plays its home matches at Palmerton.

BACK IN THE MIX … Olivia Frendt, a key returnee for the Indians this season, was out of the lineup Tuesday. But Zarelli noted the senior, who is playing two sports, would be back for today’s match. “It’s a balancing act for us this year,” he said. “But she is our No. 1 player moving forward, as of tomorrow. We’re excited to have her back.”

Palmerton 4, Lehighton 1


Nate Andress (P) def. Mark Solt 6-0, 6-0; Aaron Miller (L) def. Erica Messics 2-6, 6-4,6-3; Lucas Christman (P) def. Miranda Pettit 6-1, 2-6, 6-2.


Hunter Connell/Tim Hillanbrand (P) def. Brenna Long/Ben Slaw 4-6, 6-3, 7-5; Brayden Kline/Hailey Hatzis (P) def. Alison Miller/Madison Becksted 6-3, 6-3.


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