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Tigers duo makes school history

Courtesy photo Nathan Barton (left) and Brian Johnson captured District 6 doubles gold for the Hollidaysburg athletic program for the first time in 18 years on Thursday.

The last time Hollidaysburg Area High School won a District 6 tennis doubles championship was the year 2003. Bob Morris and David Genter teamed up to win the title and the duo went on to capture the PIAA’s coveted state crown.

“My first year as coach,” Golden Tiger coach Brian Denis said proudly Thursday at Mansion Park after watching current Tigers Nathan Barton and Brian Johnson win this year’s District 4-6 doubles title with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Kyle Shuler and Alex Norris of Williamsport, the Millionaires’ No. 1 team.

The Tigers had beaten another Williamsport team in the early rounds Tuesday.

“We’ve had a lot of kids in the (district) finals, but this is the first time since (2003) we’ve had champions,” Denis noted.

Denis was elated with the play of Barton, a sophomore, and Johnson, a senior. Barton was runnerup in last week’s district singles event.

“This was awesome,” Denis said. “To see them execute like that against two good kids was great. We knew it was going to be tough.”

Denis said his players won tough matches against their Williamsport counterparts during the regular season so Thursday’s action wasn’t unexpected, although the Golden Tiger duo never was threatened yesterday after taking early leads in both sets.

Barton and Johnson complemented each other’s play at both the net and baseline.

“My teammate (Johnson) certainly boosted my confidence,” a smiling Barton said while accepting congratulations from Holidaysburg well-wishers.

Not surprisingly, Johnson was happy as well.

“I’m so pleased,” Johnson said. “This is an incredible feeling. It’s a great honor, and I’m so happy to do it with Nate.”

Hollidaysburg athletic director Homer DeLattre presented gold medals to the Golden Tiger players.

Altoona Area School District AD Phil Riccio was in charge of the tournament and presented awards to the Williamsport players.

A sparse crowd — a few fans from both Hollidaysburg and Williamsport — watched the action on a cool, sunny morning at the MP courts.

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