Ratchfords win district title

Playing together for the first time as a team, the Ratchford cousins, Olivia and Emma, gave Central Cambria High School another District 6 Class 2A doubles tennis championship Thursday afternoon.

The Ratchfords defeated Westmont-Hilltop’s Lindsey Pullin and Abby Majeresik, 7-5, 6-0, at the Gorilla House courts.

At the same time, the State College duo of Kelly Vanden and Catelyn Janac topped Hollidaysburg’s Paige Jodon and Payton Ruggery, 7-5, 6-3, for the D6-3A title.

“Singles and doubles are completely different games,” said CC coach Kim Cavalier. “These girls all are singles players and this was their first tournament playing together.

“When there are two of you, there are strategic shots,” Cavalier noted. “Plus, you’ve got to cover the back and attack the net … it’s not easy.”

The Ratchfords jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first set only to see the Westmont team rally to tie it at 5-all.

“I think nerves set in,” Cavalier said of her team. “Sometimes it’s hard to close out and Westmont is a tough team. I knew, even at 5-0, there was a lot of work to do.”

However, the Ratchfords got things together and pulled out a 7-5 win in the first. They dominated the second, winning 7-0.

“They wanted it badly and were focused,” Cavalier said.

In 3A, the Hollidaysburg team of Jodon and Ruggery jumped out to a 4-2 lead in the first set, but the State College tandem of Vanden and Janac overcame the deficit to win, 7-5 and 6-3.

“We always tell our kids to play every point,” said State veteran coach Jane Borden. “They’ve done that extremely well with that throughout this tournament.

“They created some opportunities for themselves and the other kids made some mistakes,” Borden noted. “This year, it went our way. It doesn’t always.”

Vanden, a senior, was District 6 singles runnerup, Janac is a sophomore.

“Kelly, a senior, was calm and poised and was what Catelyn, a sophomore, needed,” Borden said. “Kelly took her under her wing and they played well together. They’re a good team, and we’re looking forward to Hershey (state tournament).”

Hollidaysburg coach Brian Denis said losing the first set after holding a 4-2 lead was the turning point.

“We were up 4-2 (games) and were leading love 30 when (State) hit a serve that was a double fault,” Denis noted. “Our girls didn’t call it and it’s amazing how quickly one point can turn a match.

“Still, we had other opportunities,” Denis continued. “It’s no shame losing to a good team and credit State College.”

Tournament notes: Central Cambria also won its first ever Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference team championship with an 18-0 record. … Olivia Ratchford won the 2A doubles title last fall as a freshman when she teamed with Liza Brady. … Rick Janac, father of SC’s Catelyn Janac, worked in the front office of the Altoona Curve several years ago. He’s now a fund raiser at Penn State University. … Altoona’s Phil Riccio and Eric Hovan presented the awards. … The event was originally scheduled to be played at Penn State Altoona, but was moved indoors because of the weather. … The D6 team event will be played next week.