---- — By Marion Valanoski
For The Daily Item
BLOOMSBURG -- There is no easy way to end the season, especially in defeat, and yet three area schools can take pleasure in the year-end performances their teams exhibited Tuesday in the opening round of the District 4 Team Tennis Championships held on the campus of Bloomsburg University that had all three head coaches pleased with their squads.
Selinsgrove, Danville and Milton all claimed first-round victories but could not find that magic in the quarterfinals and can only think about what a few more well-placed bounces might have contributed to extending their campaigns another week.
The Seals (10-8) opened the competition with a convincing 3-0 victory over Liberty as Liza Smith topped Savannah Alexyn in singles action, 6-3, 6-0, wile the doubles team of Savanna Foor and Laura Long easily topped Lauren Briggs and Savannah Dunlap, 6-0, 6-0, with Olivia Fravel and Jess Kerstette winning by forfeit earning the winners a berth opposite top-seeded and undefeated Bucktail.
Once again Selinsgrove dominated doubles action as the combination of Foor and Long beat their Bucks' counterparts Marissa Coleman and Alaina Tripp, 6-3, 6-4, and Kaetha Gentzyel and Emalea Mills could not make any headway against Fravel and Kerstetter dropping their matchup, 6-2, 6-1.
The Northern Tier champions displayed their mettle in singles play with Maria Morgan beating Moyer in No. 1 singles, 6-3, 6-1, and Abby Ransom getting past Smith, 7-5, 6-0.
Selinsgrove's hopes of knocking the Bucks out of the competition and ranks of the undefeated came to the matchup between Brittany Auker and Mary Fecteau and it went own to the wire.
Auker won the first set 7-6 but was unable to capture that all-important next game and dropped the next two sets, 6-1, 6-3.
"My goal was to get here at the start of the season and to win at least one match was good for the girls," Seals' head coach Duke Fravel said. "We had some success and hopefully we can push on even further next year. I'm not surprised it came down to the last match but we had to win at least one in singles and just came up short, our players should be proud of their year and accomplishments."
Danville raised a few eyebrows in the first round by knocking off highly regarded Montoursville, 3-1, earning a berth against powerhouse Loyalsock.
The Ironmen (8-8) captured two of the three singles matches as Linda Yang beat Lindsey Sweeley, 6-0, 6-2, and Christina Murphy topped Lexie Holmes, 6-4, 6-2 .
In doubles action, the team of Amber Renz and Jessica Yoder handled Makala Shaffer and MacKenzie Rodriguez, 7-5, 6-2.
Unfortunately, Danville was no match for the Lancers (16-2), dropping a 4-1 matchup as defending District 4 singles champion Pam Niditch led a sweep in singles play. However, Alika Lapatka made Sarah Malone earn her win as she won the opening set 6-2 before dropping the next two games, 6-4, 6-1, while in doubles Mallee Hornberger and Amily Kuntz earned a hard-fought 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (8-6) win.
"Our goal was to make it to the district tournament and we did," Ironmen head coach Mary Jo Baum said. "Certainly, beating Montoursville to earn a another round of competition was big for us."
Milton had a great hot streak at the end of the year needing five wins just to qualify and the Black Panthers were up to the task and then opened district play with an easy 3-1 win over Towanda.
Alaina Houtz captured the only singles win by beating Carly Chaffe, 6-4, 6-4, while in doubles Jenna Bowersox and Hunter Metzger were easy winners over Erica Place and Katie Christian, 6-0, 6-0, and Caylee Pinchak and Taylor Wolfe topped Rachel Dawsey and Arisa Kimurd.
The Black Panthers (9-9) found the going rougher against Hughesville (15-3), dropping a 3-0 decision.
"It was a nice ending to a good year and the players should be proud of the effort they gave to qualify for district's," Milton coach Aaron Slusser said. "Hughesville just played better than us and deserved to win."
In next week's semifinal round, Bloomsburg, which beat Montgomery, 3-0, matches up against Loyalsock and Hughesville takes on Bucktail.