---- — By Brian Holtzapple
For The Daily Item
LEWISBURG -- As new Philadelphia Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg can attest to last week, it can be difficult to get that first win under your belt.
Although new Lewisburg girls tennis coach Jim King is miles apart from Sandberg in the world of sports, he too can attest to how hard it can be to get that first victory.
King's Green Dragons faced the Montoursville Warriors in Monday's Heartland Athletic Conference season opener, a match that saw Lewisburg fall 4-1 on its home court.
"Tennis has a lot more to do with the work the players put in the offseason and what they put in the past, than in one week of preseason," said King. "Montoursville, historically, is a district power. I'm not sure where any team is at this year, but Montoursville came out and played really tough.
"This is the first match for us. We have a lot of growth ahead for us, and there's a lot of good potential there," added King.
That potential was in full display for Lewisburg (0-1) at both No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles.
In the top spot, Rachel Lipski battled Montoursville's Lindsey Sweeley in the first set before the Lewisburg senior fell by a 7-5 score.
Sweeley then closed it out with a 6-3 win in the second set to give the Warriors a 4-0 overall lead in the match.
At No. 1 doubles, Lewisburg's Claire Chau and Sydney Hartzel also were edged by a 7-5 score in their opening set with Mikayla Shaffer and Mackenzie Rodriguez.
And with a 6-3 win in the second set by Shaffer and Rodriguez, Montoursville (1-0) claimed the third and decisive victory that officially gave the Warriors the match.
"If Montoursville is as strong as it has been in the past, then we competed well," said King. "We had some tough, close sets and we need to learn to keep at it and persevere.
"We were closer in the first sets than we were in the second sets, so there's a growth area there -- psychologically more so than physically," added King. "Montoursville is a tough team and they came out and took it to us today."
The Warriors opened a 2-0 lead in the match behind dominating wins at No. 3 and 2 singles.
First at No. 3 singles, Autumn Hall defeated Libby King, 6-2, 6-0. And at No. 2 singles, Lexie Holmes took a 6-2, 6-4 win over Erin Divine.
Lewisburg's Shannon Loftus and Hannah Gotoff won at No. 2 doubles.
Regardless of how the match turned out, King was able to see the good out of a bad first loss.
"By playing competitive tennis, you just get increasingly comfortable on the court," said the Lewisburg coach. "So the more competitive matches that you play, the more relaxed you become on the court and the more able you are to hit out and play your game.
"What I saw from my girls was that they were a little tight out there, and as the season goes on they should be able to play at a higher level," added King.