By his own admission, Travis Martin’s New Oxford girls’ tennis team appeared to be in a daze early on in its District 3 Class 3A Team Championship semifinal match against perennial powerhouse Hershey.
“We looked shell-shocked, honestly, in the beginning,” he said. “In the first set it looked like it was going to be a pretty short afternoon.”
While the Colonials ended up dropping their match with the Trojans, 5-0, the fight that they showed in the second sets of their individual matches left Martin pleased.
“They way they responded in the second sets it was looking like ‘wow, we might have a chance at this,”” he said.
In total, the Ox (8-1 overall) won just six games between five combined first sets.
Hershey’s No. 1 singles star Caroline Corcoran downed Eryn Little in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2 and in second doubles the pairing of Alicia Xie and Sara Pagnis ousted New Oxford’s Maddie Dockter and Kaelyn Kennedy. 6-1, 6-1.
But the rest of the matches became a good deal more competitive after their respective first sets.
“The experience level of something like is perfect for what we need,” Martin said. “We talked all season about where we want to be as a program and this was sort of a barometer for where we’re at and where we want to go.”
Senior Kayla Hoffman led the bounce-back effort for the Colonials. After dropping the first set, 6-1, to Hershey’s Sam Bogush at No. 2 singles, she fought back for a 7-5 win in the second set before ultimately falling 6-3 in the final stanza.
“After the first set I really focused on the placement of my shots,” Hoffman said of the turnaround. “I tried to hit it more to her backhand than her forehand and had a little bit of success with that.”
New Oxford freshman Allison Horick also put up a valiant fight after first-set struggles. She lost the opening set of her third singles match with Angelina Berg, 6-1, but in the second set she pushed Berg up until the end before falling, 7-5.
“It was incredible,” Martin said of the freshman’s ability to steady herself. “She just played out of her mind today. She had to, but she got to play another freshman who’s incredibly talented and I really saw Allison come out of her shell today.”
Hoffman, too, was impressed by her young teammate.
“Allison has been great for us all year,” she said. “She’s a really talented player who had adjusted really well to the high school level and I think today just showed a bit of how good she could be with more experience.”
Another pair of freshmen, Alex Wolf and Joslyn Loss, impressed in a loss to Hershey (12-0) first doubles pairing of Abby Yurick and Annoushka Nambiar who are coming off a Mid-Penn Conference championship. The Trojans duo took the first set 6-2, but were played to a close 6-3 second set.
“All our young players were impressive today,” Martin said of the performance. “This is a great indicator for them to see ‘wow, I need to play at that level’ and I think them playing at that level today bodes well for us going forward.”
On Friday, Hershey will face top-seeded Manheim Township (9-0) for the Class 3A championship while Wyomissing (12-0) battles Conrad Weiser (13-0) for the 2A title.