Altoona’s Lucas, Hollingsworth earn title

By Jon Fleck

For the Mirror

Tennis by nature can be a veriy subdued sport, but as Altoona’s Lauren Lucas and Emilee Hollingsworth closed in on a District 6 Class AAA doubles championship, their teammates grew louder and louder with each passing point.

When the Altoona duo finished off the 6-3, 6-3 win over Hollidaysburg’s Alyssa Pheasant and Sierra Cobler, about a dozen teammates ran on to the court and celebrated the victory with Lucas and Hollingsworth.

“They’re a pretty close-knit unit,” Altoona coach Eric Hovan said. “It’s cool to see so many of the girls come out to support them and be excited for them like that.”

Lucas’ strong baseline play and Hollingsworth’s skill at the net created the winning combination for Altoona.

“We tried to maximize the strengths of both players. Emilee is extremely active at the net, and Lauren is rock solid on the baseline,” Hovan said. “Alyssa Pheasant is so active at the net for Hollidaysburg. Lauren did a good job of keeping the ball away from her but was still consistent enough to make good shots.”

Both sets played out similarly. The two teams were tied 2-2 in each set before Lucas and Hollingsworth won the next three to go up 5-2 and eventually take the set 6-3.

“When they got the momentum, they capitalized,” Hollidaysburg coach Brian Denis said. “We didn’t a very good job on Hollingsworth at the net. She had a lot of winners, and we had some unforced errors on big points.”

Pheasant and Coble looked like they might establish some momentum of their own when they broke Lucas’ serve in the first game of the second set, but Altoona got a service break of its own in the next game then held serve in the one after that.

For Lucas, it was her second shot at district gold in a week. She advanced to the singles finals last weekend before falling to Hollidaysburg’s Marissa Lanzel.

Primarily a singles player, Lucas had just a couple days to work with Hollingsworth for the doubles tournament.

“We worked mainly on moving around the court and adjusting to each other’s game,” Lucas said. “It’s an ineffable feeling.”

“It’s definitely a two-player thing. We need each other to win,” Hollingsworth said. “It feels so awesome. Hollidaysburg is always an awesome match. To play and win it is a great feeling.”

Pheasant and Cobler advanced to the finals by knocking off Altoona’s Marina Dixon and Julia Nagle, 6-3, 6-1, in the quarterfinals Friday and then eliminating the top-seeded tandem from State College Cathy Badding and Juliette Greer later Friday.

“For our No. 3 and No. 5 girls to make it through to the finals playing other schools ones and twos is a great accomplishment,” Denis said.

“They kind of flew under the radar, but played darn near perfect tennis Friday. They had hardly any unforced errors.”

Lucas’ and Hollingsworth’s path to the finals went through Mifflin County’s Alana Felton and Emily Hurlburt, 6-0, 6-0, in the quarters and Hollidaysburg’s Maisie Supp and Elyse Smilmak, 6-0, 6-1, in the semis.

As district champions, Lucas and Hollingsworth will play in the state tournament Nov. 1-2 in Hershey. Altoona and Hollidaysburg play Monday in the District 6 AAA team semifinals. The winner of that match plays top-seeded State College Wednesday for the district title.In the AA finals,

Forest Hills’ Emily Goldyn and Rachel Blanchetti topped Westmont Hilltop’s Allie Kane and Bethany Carney in a three-set tiebreaker 2-6. 6-3, 7-6 (7-5).