Trojans reach D-11 title match
Few outside the Parkland boys tennis program expected the team to reach this year’s District final.
But after Tuesday’s 4-1 win over Emmaus, the No. 2 seed Trojans are not only headed to Thursday’s District 11 Class 3A title match at Lehigh University, but they could also be regarded as the favorite in the match.
“They have exceeded a lot of expectations,” said Parkland head coach Mike Hingston. “I don’t think many people expected Parkland to be in a district final this year with teams out there like Emmaus, Liberty and Nazareth. Those teams spent most of the season seeded ahead of us. We had to come up from the No. 6 position and finally wound up the No. 2 seed in districts.”
The Trojans, which have five seniors in their seven-player district line up, are hungry for a chance at their first district championship since the 2015 season. The team fell in last year’s semifinals to Nazareth and its returning players are excited for longer postseason run.
“We had an earlier exit last year than we wanted to,” said No. 3 singles player Sam Zahn. “But this year is our chance at redemption because we’re not sure when we’ll be in this position again.”
Parkland dropped the top singles slot against Emmaus, as district singles champ Sean Jaeger beat Trojan senior Alex Son 6-1, 6-0. But Parkland took the other four matches.
Senior Ryan Guzman beat Emmaus’ Grant Haffner 6-3, 6-1. Zahn beat Kevin Ge 6-3, 6-4.
In doubles, Parkland senior Jonah Grob and freshman Ankit Lenka battled for a 3-6, 6-4, 10-5 win and Nishant Chitluru and Matthew Liu capped the win with a 7-5, 6-2 victory at No. 2 doubles.
“We had to battle,” said Hingston. “We got tested for sure. There were a lot of close games, a lot of deuce-ad games.”
Parkland improves to 15-2 overall with the win. A team that had to replace many of its key players from last season has several seniors that have been with the program for three or four years and look to make the most of their final high school season.
“Aside from Alex [Son], these are all players who have been waiting their turn,” said Zahn. “Everybody’s been waiting for our shot at the district title.”
Hingston said the team’s goal was to improve all season and play its best when the postseason rolled around.
“That doesn’t always happen,” he said. “ You hope that happens, but sometimes the wheels fall off at the end of the year, especially with a senior-laden team like we have. But these guys have kept their focus. The seniors have been great leaders and role models and they’ve been the glue to keep this thing rolling. They’ve done an exceptional job.
“The thing that we talked about is we wanted to be that team at the end of the season that nobody wanted to play. I think we got ourselves there. For us to get to a district final is a big accomplishment, but we feel like we have more work to do.”
Parkland will meet No. 4 seed Liberty in Thursday’s title match. The Trojans beat Liberty 6-1 in their only meeting this season on April 21. The Hurricanes upset top-seeded Nazareth in Tuesday’s other semifinal.