Lady Tigers move into team tennis finals

HOLLIDAYSBURG- The streak goes on for the Hollidaysburg Area High School girls’ tennis program.

The Lady Tigers, who haven’t lost a regular-season match in five years, held off Altoona, 3-1, in the District 6 Class AAA team semifinals Monday afternoon at the Tiger Tennis Complex and will travel to State College on Wednesday to face the Lady Little Lions for the district team championship.

“That was a tight one,” Hollidaysburg coach Brian Denis, obviously relieved, said. “Last year, the No. 3 singles was the deciding match.

“This felt like a district championship match,” Denis continued. “Even though it was the semifinals, I felt whoever won this had a great chance Wednesday.

“We were lucky to pull it out,” he said. “No. 1 doubles stepped up big and that was pretty much the match because we were losing some steam [No. 2 singles] … we’ve won four district titles in a row and this feels just as good as winning those.”

The neighboring rivals met twice during the regular season and Hollidaysburg prevailed both times by 4-1 scores.

“Neither one was really that close,” Altoona coach Eric Hovan said of the earlier meetings. “This time we were right there, winning at No. 2 singles and it came down to the third set of the final match, which it did all three times we played Hollidaysburg last year.”

Hollidaysburg won at No. 1 and No. 3 singles [Marissa Lanzel and Sierra Cobler] while Altoona’s No. 2 doubles team of Kayla Letscher and Julia Nagle was victorious. Lady Lion Emilee Hollingsworth was winning the No. 2 singles when the Tigers’ duo of Alyssa Pheasant and Elyse Smilnak clinched the team win with a three-set, three-hour decision at No. 1 doubles.

“They’re always great matches,” Hovan said. “I think we played our best match of the season today and, although we’re disappointed, we feel good that we played our best at districts.

“Last year, No. 3 singles went on for a long time [before it was over],” Hovan noted. “They’re always classic matches and, although we’ve been coming up on the short side, if we keep knocking on the door, eventually we’ll break it down at some point.”

Meanwhile, Hollidaysburg keeps rolling.

“We’ve been the hunted for five years,” Denis said. “We’ve got a target on our back, but every time we’ve played a big match we’ve won.

“We go for our fifth straight district title Wednesday,” he said. “We’ve kept our regular-season streak alive and it’s always a battle with Altoona. A lot of the matches today could have gone either way. Fortunately, we won how we did.”

In addition to the four district team crowns, the Tigers have won 83 straight regular-season matches over the five-year span.

SINGLES: 1, Lanzel, H, def. Lucas, 6-4, 6-3; 2, Hollingsworth, A, leading Supp, 7-5, 3-0 (match suspended); 3, Cobler, H, def. Dixon, 6-4, 6-0.

DOUBLES: 1, Pheasant-Smilnak, H, def. Seidel-Wills, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2; 2, Letscher-Nagle, A, def. Baum-Rose, 6-4, 6-3.