By Brian Holtzapple
For The Daily Item
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT -- With a steely resolve beyond her years, Danville sophomore Linda Yang advanced to the finals of the District 4 singles tennis tournament Monday.
Yang, the tournament's No. 3 seed, faced top-seeded Pam Niditch of Loyalsock in a title match that featured a clash of two distinct playing styles.
However, the serve-and-volley play of Yang was no match for the fast, attacking style of Niditch, and the Lancer claimed the district championship with a 6-1, 6-1 victory at the West Branch Raquet Club.
"I'm kind of disappointed I didn't win, but there's not much I can do about that," said Yang. "Pam is a really good player. She hits hard, she has a lot of good angles and a lot of direction on her shots, and she rarely ever misses."
Despite the outcome, both Niditch and Yang advance to the PIAA Tournament held Nov. 1-2 at the Hershey Racquet Club.
"It's really exciting. It's amazing, actually. I'm surprised I made it this far," said Yang.
Niditch, a sophomore, never really gave Yang much of a chance to get into their match that lasted less than an hour.
In the opening set, the Lancer broke the Ironman twice and took a 4-0 lead before Yang won a game.
And in set two, Yang held her serve to open with a win but, after the two switched sides, Niditch won the next game and kept winning -- although it wasn't as easy as it looked.
"Pam is such a formidable opponent, and we knew that coming in," said Danville coach Mary Jo Baum. "But, boy, they had some long points and I was just so pleased with Linda, especially in the second set.
"I saw her trying to fight back, but it was tough to get those points at the end and her score didn't show how well she did," added the Danville coach.
That surely wasn't the case in Yang's semifinal match against No. 2-seeded Ivy-Rose Kramer of Bloomsburg.
By playing her game, all Yang needed to do was sit back and wait for Kramer to make mistakes. The Panther made plenty of unforced errors in a down-tempo match, and it resulted in a 6-3, 6-1 victory for the Ironman.
"We didn't play Ivy all season, so I just wasn't sure what to expect," said Baum. "I felt Linda played phenomenal and she did a great job (in the semis), and in the finals as well.
"Linda was very confident coming in. She's just so determined -- her mood was determination," added Baum. "Linda knows she can play well and she's played a lot of people. She has that confidence and she was able to execute so much in that first match. I just can't get over how well she did."
But determination and effort only goes so far when the level of play rises between the semis and finals.
Yang learned that the hard way.
"It's really a drastic change. I was playing a really slow game against Ivy, and I was just waiting for her to miss," Yang said. "While against Pam, I just had to play fast and I couldn't keep up. It was overwhelming."
In the day's other semifinal match, Niditch defeated No. 4-seeded Maria Morgan of Bucktail, 6-4, 6-1.