New Oxford freshman Anya Rosenbach had taken everything in stride in her first year of high school tennis.
As the Colonials’ No. 1, she led her team to 15-1 regular season record and a spot in the District 3 Class 3A Team Championships. She then went out and won gold in both singles and doubles at the YAIAA Tournament, teaming with Allison Horick in the latter.
But Rosenbach wasn’t done. On Thursday, she helped New Oxford to an upset victory over No. 2 Hershey in the district team tournament quarterfinals, landing the Colonials a date with No. 3 Cumberland Valley in Tuesday’s semifinals.
Looking to put a bow on her remarkable freshman campaign, Rosenbach entered the individual postseason seeded third in the District 3-3A singles’ tournament. She cruised through the first two rounds, picking up a pair of straight set victories on Friday. That advanced her in Saturday’s semifinals and a matchup with No. 2 Avery Palandjian of Manheim Township.
Palandjian, a senior, looked in firm control after the set of the match, claiming a dominant 6-0 victory. But Rosenbach settled in and fought to a 7-5 win in the second set, evening the match and setting a decisive third and final set. In that set, the pair went back and forth, with Rosenbach on serve with the set tied at 4-4. Palandjian, however, was able to break the serve of the freshman and then closed the match out on her own serve, taking it 6-0, 5-7, 6-4.
“For being a freshman and being down 6-0 in the first set, a normal freshman would just quit and not go through the whole process. But Anya just showed so much resilience,” New Oxford coach Travis Martin said. “I’m just unbelievably proud of her. She went up against an amazing senior in Avery and she showed a lot of who she is.”
The loss to Palandjian did not end Rosenbach’s day or her senior season, though, as the top three place-winners from the district advance to the PIAA tournament. Instead, she was set for a third-place match with Palandjian’s teammate, Kayla Kurtz, who dropped her semifinal with two-time defending district champion Caroline Rabatin of Penn Manor, 6-1, 6-0. The winner would not only earn bronze, but also qualify for the PIAA Championships.
That match was set to start just 45 minutes after Rosenbach’s marathon match with Palandjian. The two took to the court for warm-ups and began the first game, but it was clear something was not right with Rosenbach, who struggled to move on the baseline. Moments later, she called down Martin and a match official and after a brief discussion, Rosenbach and her coaches decided to default out with a left knee injury.
Rosenbach, who runs cross country as well and is training for a marathon, said after the match that she was experiencing a grinding sensation in her knee that caused her pain. Despite defaulting out, the young star refused to get down on her performance.
“I thought I played really well,” she said. “I definitely played a lot better the last two sets and I was just a lot more consistent and moved the ball around more.”
While Rosenbach’s status is up in the air for Tuesday’s team semifinal, Martin said that the decision to default out of the third-place match was an obvious one with her future in mind.
“We were kind of going back and forth and Anya still wanted to play, but she couldn’t hustle to any balls and we just explained to her that nobody is upset,” he said. “You have a long career ahead of you and she’ll be back for the next few years.”
The decision was made easier for Rosenbach by the tremendous support from her teammates, many of whom had made the trip to Hershey to offer support.
“It’s really cool,” Rosenbach said of having her teammates there. “I really appreciate their support and coming out. We have a really good bond.”
Rosenbach and Martin both said they’ll assess the injury in the coming days and hope to be able to test it on Tuesday ahead of the match with Cumberland Valley, which will be back at Hershey Racquet Club.
District 3 Tennis Championships
Saturday — Hershey Racquet Club
1. Rabatin (Penn Manor) d. Kurtz (Manheim Township) 6-1, 6-0; 2. Palandjian (Manheim Township) d. 3. Anya Rosenbach (New Oxford) 6-0, 5-7, 6-4
Kurtz (MT) medical def. Rosenbach (NO)
Rabatin (PM) d. Palandjian (MT) 6-0, 2-6, 6-3
1. Millen (Lanc. Cath.) d. 4. Steele (West York) 6-3, 6-2; 3. Gassert (Hamburg) d. 2. Gerz (Lanc. Mennonite) 6-1, 6-1
Gerz (LM) d. Steele (WY) 7-6(7), 6-2
Millen (LC) d. Gassert (Ham) 6-1, 6-0