Area teams turned away in finals

Emotions ran high with shouts of “Yeah,” “Let’s go”, and “Come on” echoing throughout the ProCare Therapy and Fitness Center Thursday afternoon following every pivotal point in the 2A and 3A District 6 doubles tennis championship matches.

Both matches needed a third set to determine the outcome. Both local entrants came out on the short end of the score.

The Hollidaysburg duo of Rami Alkhafaji and Sammy Obeid fell to the top-seeded State College tandem of Matt Wherley and Owen Lloyd 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 while Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic’s Ryne Talko and Vincent D’Andrea lost out to Richland’s Cole Kazmierczyk and Bobby Murtha 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 on the adjacent court.

State College jumped on Alkhafaji and Obeid early, easily winning the first set and taking a quick 3-0 advantage in the second. The Golden Tiger twosome rallied to win seven of the next nine games and force a third set.

“Just about everyone had given up on our kids at that point, but they didn’t give up on themselves,” Hollidaysburg coach Brian Denis said. “They finally started to believe, and it snowballed, carrying them through the rest of the second set.”

Alkhafaji attributed the slow start to matching the opponents intensity and needing time to formulate a strategy.

“We were a little shocked by their intensity,” he said. “We got the adrenaline going and found a rhythm in the second set. We started kicking it to their backhand more and being more aggressive at the net.”

Hollidaysburg led 3-2 in the third set with a Alkhafaji serving when a close call went State College’s way. The Little Lions tandem went on to break Alkhafaji and take the final three games to win the match.

“We had our chances, but just missed them in a few of the games,” Obeid said. “They played really well.”

The BG match started out just the opposite. It was the Marauders getting off to a good start, taking a hard-fought first set 7-5. Talko and D’Andrea were unable to build on the first set win, however, dropping the first five games of the second set in a 6-1 loss.

“We let up some and didn’t capitalize on the things we should have. They took advantage,” Talko said.

“We made a lot of stupid mistakes. We weren’t playing at the top of our game,” D’Andrea added.

The third set went back and forth with BG leading 3-2 at one point before Richland won four of the last five close out the match and take the title.

“Once they woke up and realized they had to bring it, go for shots and take risks, they played better,” BG coach Julie Donovan said. “They just couldn’t quite overcome the momentum the other team had built up.”

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