Blue Mountain eliminates Thorpe
Chloe Getz of Jim Thorpe returns the ball at the net as doubles partner Evelyn Flores watches from the baseline. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
ORWIGSBURG – The Jim Thorpe girls’ tennis team exceeded veteran coach Norb Lienhard’s expectations this season.
Not many expected the Olympians to reach the District 11 playoffs, but they did. Few expected them to set a school record for victories in a season, but they did. That success left Lienhard optimistic heading into Tuesday’s District 11 Class 2A quarterfinal round match with perennial power Blue Mountain.
“I thought we had a good shot today,” Lienhard said. “We had played very well against them in our two losses during the regular season, and I really thought if we were able to get a sweep in the doubles — which was very possible — and maybe sneak out a win in one of the singles, we could beat them and advance. But unfortunately it wasn’t to be.”
Fifth-seeded Blue Mountain wasn’t about to let the upset happen, however, as it played a strong match and posted a 5-0 victory over the fourth-seeded Olympians.
Lienhard’s theory was sound.
The Olympians had picked up doubles victories against Blue Mountain during the regular season. In the first meeting between the teams, Thorpe’s No. 1 doubles team won and in the second meeting the JT No. 2 doubles team won.
Blue Mountain coach Mark Abel felt the key to the victory was his team’s doubles play.
“Hey, I was worried coming in,” Abel said. “There was a lot of angst from my side. Jim Thorpe has good doubles teams, and they had a chance of winning both and maybe upsetting one of our singles.”
The No. 1 doubles for the Olympians started strong as Evelyn Flores and Chloe Getz won the opening set 6-4. “That looked very winnable,” said Linehard. “But Blue Mountain has some very good players. They are so quick getting to the ball. Just when you think you have a point, they find a way to make a play.”
Indeed that was the scenario throughout the remainder of the match as the Blue Mountain team of sisters Katie and Natalie Rabkinkam rallied from the firsts et loss to win the next two, 6-0 and 6-1.
Meanwhile, the Eagles No. 2 doubles teams of Sophie Chawluk and Aspen Weizer swept Gabby Nunez and Sophie Samoleski 6-4, 6-1 to kill off any hopes the Olympians had of pulling the upset.
Blue Mountain won all three singles matches in straight sets.
NEXT STOP … Lienhard hopes to get three doubles teams into Monday’s District 11 tournament which will be staged at Lehigh University.
GREAT RUN … The Olympians had their best record ever in the sport, going 14-4. “It was totally unexpected, but working hard rewards you,” said Lienhard.
Blue Mountain 5, Jim Thorpe 0
Lauren Gamaer (BM) def. Christy McLean 6-2, 6-2; Lily Wright (BM) def. Kaitlyn O’Neil, 6-0, 6-0; Paige Blankenhorn (BM) def. Trista Gehris, 6-2, 6-0.
Katie Rabkinkam/Natalie Rabkinkam (BM) def. Evelyn Flores/Chloe Getz, 4-6, 6-0, 6-1; Sophie Chawluk/Aspen Weizer (BM) def. Gabby Nunez/Sophie Samoleski. 6-4, 6-1.