By Brian Holtzapple
For The Daily Item
WILLIAMSPORT -- A typical day at the District 4 singles tennis tournament can last upwards of seven to eight hours for those players fortunate enough to reach the quarterfinals.
The trick for surviving a grueling three-match first day is to get on and off the courts as quickly as possible to conserve energy.
Lewisburg senior Ben Koch was a model of efficiency during Saturday's early rounds. He didn't lose a single game and won all three of his matches by identical 6-0, 6-0 scores to advance to the semifinals for the second consecutive year.
"I told Ben, especially for the first match or two, just to get on and off the court because it's a long day, and try to do the best to win the match and get through it as efficiently as he could," said Lewisburg coach Matt Barr. "He did a good job of doing that."
In the first round, not only was the No. 2-seeded Koch battling Liberty's Dakota Alexyn, but he was also battling his nerves. However, by the time he defeated Hughesville's Mitchel Thomas in round two, nerves were no longer an issue for Koch.
"I came out really nervous. I didn't know how well I was going to play, but things kind of came together as the day progressed," said Koch. "I felt better and better each match. I got my footwork down and I started to play much better."
Koch's confidence was clearly evident in his quarterfinal match versus Danville senior Steven Zhang, the No. 7 seed, who he beat in under 45 minutes.
"That felt great. I thought that was going to be very competitive and probably one of the toughest matches that I would have overall," said Koch. "But I just kept my composure, moved my feet and I played great."