By Brian Holtzapple
For The Daily Item
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT -- There is a first time for everything, and for the Lewisburg High boys tennis team such a moment came on Tuesday.
Over the last four years the Green Dragons have been working hard towards getting an elusive first win in the PIAA Tournament, and they finally succeeded in that quest against the Scranton Prep Cavaliers.
After both of Lewisburg's doubles teams came out on top in their matches, Kerry Shutt followed with a straight-set win at No. 2 singles to clinch the Green Dragons' 3-1 first-round victory over District 2 champ Scranton Prep at the West Branch Racquet Club.
"This is a pretty amazing feeling. These guys played so well today, and they knew (Tuesday) was the day they've been working for. I'm so proud of them," said Lewisburg coach Matt Barr, whose team advances to play District 7 champ Sewickley Academy in the quarterfinals on Friday at 12:30 p.m. at the Hershey Racquet Club.
"Some of that experience of being (at states) and getting their clocks cleaned has been good. These guys saw that and they've been there, and it's been good for them to feel that pain and know they have to work for it."
In the day's decisive match Shutt defeated Keller McQurrin, 6-3, 6-4. Shutt trailed 4-3 in the second set, but he went on to win three straight games to give Lewisburg (18-1) its monumental victory.
"We knew that Lewisburg has never won a state match, so to be the first ones to do it in our senior year is pretty special," said Shutt, who is among a group of eight seniors that has won 54 of 56 regular-season matches and also claimed three District 4 titles during the last four years, but had no wins in the state playoffs to show for their efforts.
"We came in here with a 'we don't have anything to lose' attitude because no one really expected us to do much. To come up here and show some people we're a little better than we used to be is pretty special."
Lewisburg's depth has been its biggest strength all season, so it wasn't a big surprise that the Green Dragons' first two wins came from their doubles teams.
The No. 2 team of Jordan Massoud and Bryan Speake got things started. They beat John-Carlon Cognetti and Matt Knowles, 6-2, 6-3, for the first win of the day.
Mike McCormack and Glen Gallik followed at No. 1 doubles with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Tony Kutz and Chris Roe.
In the other matches, Ben Koch led over Will Cognetti, 6-3, 1-4, at No. 1 singles before it was halted. And at No. 3 singles, Russ Nash fell to Pete Kazmierczak, 6-1, 7-5.
"Down the lineup we knew we were going to have to use our depth to win points, and our doubles teams, man, they came out firing," said Barr. "I'm so proud of how they played -- making minimal mistakes, keeping the ball in play and finishing points at the net."