by Adam Warren ’21 (De La Salle House)
My season really starts in July, about 8 months before our first match on the Trinity courts. I work 4 to 5 days a week indoors for that 7 to 8 month period before the outdoor season starts. My frame-of-mind is aim to play at States, the highest level, and to be competitive with that group of elite players. We have one of the toughest districts to get through to make the qualifiers for the state championship.
A stepping stone to States is the Mid Penn Conference. I came into the local tournament ranked second. I had two in season losses one to Camp Hill’s Josh Pantaloni, and one to East Penn’s Nate Stahlman.
Going into Mid-Penns, I had a favorable draw with Stahlman and Pantaloni in the top half of the draw. I played two solid matches to make it to the final where I met Pantaloni for our third meeting of the season. Josh and I are evenly matched. It’s always a dogfight, and a few key points make the difference. That match was his day to beat me. Second place is good enough to make Districts but it eliminated hope of being seeded in the District tournament. I was a little bummed out to say the least.
A week later, the draw for the District came out with a heavily stacked top half again. I ended up on the bottom. My first round was a fairly rough match, with my nerves getting to me, but I was able to claim a 6-4, 6-4 win. My second match was against the third-seeded player where I found myself backed into a corner and faced 3 set points against me in the first set. I ended up winning the first set 7-6 in tiebreak that I won 7-4. I immediately found myself again in a tough set with my opponent running down every ball I hit without appearing to fatigue. He won that second set 6-4. So now I needed to dig deep within myself to not get down and keep fighting and win this set to keep my unlikely District run still alive. I won that match on a huge forehand winner. I looked to my dad and gave a big fist pump. We made it to day 2 of districts.
At that point, I needed to win one of the two matches to qualify for the State. I had a tough match in the semi-final against the second seed from Lancaster whom I’ve played many times. My mentality was simple: scrap for every point and see if I could pull off another improbable upset. I lost the first set 6-7 in a devastating 4-7 tiebreak which saw me up 4-1 in the first 5 points. I played just as well in the second set, but lost 4-6 to end my incredible run. My focus had to shift to the next match to play a worn out Josh Pantaloni to qualify for States. It was unfortunate, but Josh couldn’t put up his normal fight due to extreme fatigue from playing hard over the previous two days. It was a routine 6-2, 6-3 win. I was relieved to have qualified for the state championship but it also hurt to see Josh have to be eliminated, especially with how good of a season he had played.
It’s been a great season so far and I’m excited to see if I can pull some upsets in the State bracket. I feel I can play with less pressure since I’m not expected to win matches at States so it’s a nice luxury to be able to go and play freely.