The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

May 15, 2013

H.S. tennis: Lewisburg's wave crashes short of doubles final


Daily Item

---- — By Brian Holtzapple

For The Daily Item

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT -- Lewisburg coach Matt Barr described his team's postseason success this year as one big wave he wanted his players to keep riding and enjoy as long as they can.

While that wave carried the Green Dragons to titles in both the District 4 team competition and in singles, Lewisburg's momentum ran out abruptly short of doubles gold.

However, the Green Dragons didn't go down without a fight.

Lewisburg's No. 4-ranked team of seniors Michael McCormack and Russell Nash fell in the semifinals to South Williamsport's top-seeded duo of Bryce Jones and Christian Cioffi, 7-6 (7-1), 7-5, Wednesday at the West Branch Racquet Club.

McCormack and Nash won three matches in the tournament despite being paired together less than 24 hours prior to the start of competition.

"These guys should definitely be proud of where they're at," said Barr. "Being put together at the last minute and sort of jumping in together (blind) ... I'm proud of how they played together."

McCormack and Nash found themselves locked in a tight battle with Jones and Cioffi as neither team's serve could be broken during the opening set, which eventually wound its way to tie breaks.

Mistakes, however small, have a bigger significance the farther a team advances in a district tournament. The Green Dragons committed three double faults in the tie breaks and the Mounties took advantage to win, 7-1.

"Especially in this type of match, the further on you go the opportunities to make those kinds of mistakes and then recover from them go away," said Barr. "Double faults are free points. Hitting some easy balls out and those kinds of things -- that's going to hurt you."

McCormack and Nash opened the second set on a much different note than the one that ended the first set. They took a 4-2 lead on a solid serve-and-volley game that was punctuated by several overhead smashes at the net from Nash.

The Green Dragons then came within a game of forcing a third set as they broke the Mounties serve to take a 5-4 lead, but Jones and Cioffi broke right back to tie it up before they won out the rest of the way to take the set and the match.

"Obviously, (Jones and Cioffi) have been here before, and Jones made it to states last year in doubles. They both have good tennis games and we just wanted to see what happens," said Barr. "We played close sets, and we knew to keep the sets close and try to pull it out in the end.

"We weren't going to try to do a whole lot of crazy tennis or anything like that, just play (our) tennis and keep the ball in play more than (South Williamsport) did, and we didn't do that."

In the finals Jones and Cioffi faced the No. 2-seeded team from Loyalsock, Caleb Vuocolo and Mark Odorizzi, following the Lancers' 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 semifinal victory over Hughesville's No. 3-seeded team of Josh Fry and Mitchel Thomas. Vucolo and Odorizzi ultimately won the title, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4.

The two finalists advance to the PIAA Championships on May 24-25 at the Hershey Racquet Club.