Tigers survive first round

Hollidaysburg’s Golden Tigers survived a wait, the heat, and the loss of their top player to post their first win ever in the PIAA state team tennis tournament.

The Tigers scored a 4-1 victory over DuBois on Tuesday afternoon at the ProCare courts, but it wasn’t as easy as it sounds.

The Class AAA first-round match was scheduled for a 2 p.m. start at ProCare. However, the DuBois team mistakenly first stopped at the Summit Tennis & Athletic Club. Then, after a telephone conversation with game director Eric Hovan straightened them out, the Beavers jumped on the bus again for the short jaunt to ProCare.

When play finally began about 3:15 p.m., the Beavers were no match for the Golden Tigers, who posted the win, even without Amir Alkhafaji, their No. 1 player.

“This is another first for our boys’ program,” Hollidaysburg coach Brian Denis said. “This is the first time we’ve ever been in the state playoffs and, obviously, our first win.”

The District 6-AAA champion Tigers, now in the state’s Elite Eight, will face Council Rock North in second-round action Friday at the Hershey Country Club. Council Rock, the third seed from District 1, defeated District 3 champ Manheim, 3-1, Tuesday.

“This is a great win and now we can go to Hershey and soak in the experience,” Denis said. “We have five underclassmen so this is a good opportunity for them to see what the best players in the state look like.

“We were a little sloppy today,” he said, “but we had to sit around and wait and it was indoors and warm.”

With Alkhafaji sidelined, Sam Sky and Max Sheetz each were bumped up a spot in the singles and were victorious. Sky, playing No. 1, won the first set 6-2, but trailed 4-1 in the second before rallying for a 7-5 win. Sheetz dominated at No. 2, winning 6-1, 6-1.

Rommy Obeid, who was inserted at No. 3 singles for the Tigers, dropped a three-setter.

Hollidaysburg’s doubles teams – Josh Cobler and Emre Cardakli (6-0, 6-0) and John Johnson and Eric Miller (6-1, 6-1) – had no trouble dispatching their DuBois foes.

“We might be a little in awe when we get [Hershey], but, hopefully, we can settle in and realize we can play with those kids, too,” Denis said. “We’ll certainly give it a try.”

Denis said he did not know whether Alkhafaji, the District 6 singles champion, will play in Hershey or not, saying it’s a school decision.

“It’s out of my hands,” Denis said.

SINGLES: 1, Sky, H, def. Hnat, 6-2, 7-5; 2, Sheetz, H, Lines, 6-1, 6-1; 3, Toney, D, def. Obeid, 7-5, 4-6, 6-1.

DOUBLES: 1, Cobler/Cardakli, H, def. Fultz/Shindledecker, 6-0, 6-0; 2, Johnson/Miller, H, def. Hopkins/Adams, 6-1, 6-1.

Records: Hollidaysburg (15-0).