Mt. Pleasant tennis team claims at least share of section crown
On Friday afternoon, in cold and windy conditions, the two best boys tennis teams in Section 1-AA squared off to determine not only which team would stay perfect, but also which would clinch no less than a share of the section championship.
The match between Southmoreland and host Mt. Pleasant could have gone in either team’s favor, but the Vikings picked up a much-needed win at third singles and earned a hard-fought 3-2 victory.
With the win, the Vikings (14-0, 13-0) claimed no less than a share of the section crown and can win it outright if they defeat the Scotties (12-1, 11-1) on Monday at Southmoreland. Mt. Pleasant has won the section title outright in each of the past four seasons.
“At the beginning of the season, our three singles players (David Cenkner, Clayton Howard and Jonathan Shaffer) said they would do it,” Mt. Pleasant coach Tony Splendore said. “It means a lot. It says a lot about our program.”
The chance to win an outright title this year almost didn’t materialize as Shaffer found himself trailing, 3-2, in the third set of the third singles mach against Southmoreland’s Kevin Bundridge.
However, Shaffer was able to charge back and eventually take the set and earn the win, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
“After I lost the second set, I felt like I had to come through for my team,” said Shaffer, after winning four of the final five points. “Personally, this was my biggest win of the season.”
Mt. Pleasant got off to a very strong start. Cenkner scored a 6-0, 6-0 decision over Jeremy Niemiec at first singles. The Scotties countered with a win at second singles, as Tyler Fox defeated Howard, 6-2, 6-2.
Southmoreland gained the advantage when its first doubles team of Ryan Byers and Robert Smith beat Chris Mull and Mark Snyder in a close match, 7-5, 7-5.
But just when it appeared as though the Scotties were ready to pull out the win at third singles, Shaffer came back to even the team score at 2-2.
“At third singles, they came back, and that’s what turned it around,” Southmoreland coach Jim Kessler said.
Mt. Pleasant sealed the win moments later when Ryan Bull and Kevin Chearney collected a 6-2, 6-2 second doubles win over Nate Opalinski and Ted Mondock.
“My second doubles played really well,” Splendore said. “They are hot and cold, and they were on their game.”
Despite losing yesterday, the Scotties will have a shot at redemption in Monday’s rematch.
“It’s a little frustrating,” Kessler said. “But I just told them to rest over the weekend and just let this one go.”