By Jim Lane
For the Mirror
The District 6 Class AAA doubles tennis championships had more ups and downs than a roller coaster ride at Lakemont Park.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Hollidaysburg’s Cameron Humphrey finishes his serve.
In the end, the State College doubles duo of Edward Badding and Bernardo Dellagnelo prevailed over Hollidaysburg's Steven Dodson and Cameron Humphrey, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, on Tuesday afternoon at the Leopold Courts.
Hollidaysburg led 3-1 and 5-3 in the first set only to see State rally and even things at 5-5. However, the Tiger duo of Dodson and Humphrey broke service to take a 6-5 lead and closed it out by holding service.
State College's Badding and Dellagnelo appeared to take control in the second set, building a 4-1 lead and holding on for a 6-4 win to force the third set.
Dodson and Humphrey started strong in the third, breaking service in the first game. Another service break gave the Tigers a 4-3 lead, but they couldn't hold on as SC won the next three games, including two service breaks, to win the set, 6-4, and the match.
"If you had told me two hours ago that we'd be up 4-3 in the third set and serving with two times to hold and win the match, I would have been pleased," Hollidaysburg coach Brian Denis said.
It didn't happen, though, as the Tigers failed to hold serve.
"It was gut-wrenching," Denis said of the tough loss. "I guess, if you're going to lose, I'd rather lose badly than lose in a hearbreaker like that."
Dodson and Humphrey, a couple of juniors, have played under the coach's guidance since 4th grade.
"They're almost like family to me," Denis said, "and to see them play one of the best matches I've ever seen them play together, and come up on the short end, is really tough.
"In good doubles, you hold serve a lot," Denis said. "But, at the same time, you can have a great match with a ton of service breaks. There might have been more service breaks than holds today."
Denis said the team worked all winter and felt it had a good shot to win the district doubles until Dellagnelo transferred to State High when his parents were hired at Penn State University.
"We didn't account for him, but we took that as a challenge to play against an even better team," Denis said.
"We came up on the short end, and this will hurt for awhile," Denis said.
The Tigers won't have much time to regroup, either, as they play the Little Lions in the District 6-AAA team championships today in State College.
SC coach Jane Borden, like Denis, said the match was dominated by momentum shifts.
"Both teams played really well at times and we were lucky to get the momentum at the end," Borden said.
"The entire match went back and forth in two and three-game shifts," Borden noted. "We'd play two or three really good games and they'd play two or three really good games.
"We played two really good games at the end, and that made the difference."
Borden expected a tight match.
"I knew it would be close," she said. "I saw them in the early district rounds. I knew Dodson was really good and Humphrey was very steady and that's a great combination for a doubles team."
Badding, a sophomore, and Dellagnelo, a junior, will play the District 12 champions in the first round of the PIAA State Tournament over Memorial Day weekend in Hershey.