Epler, Smith place in L-L Tennis
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
A pair of Ephrata High School tennis players made some noise at the recently completed L-L Individual Tournament.
Senior Emily Epler, who was recently named a Section One All-Star, earned eighth place overall in Flight One against the best competition in the tournament. And in Flight Three, Brittany Smith completed an outstanding junior season with a second-place finish in the finals.
Epler (9-8) became the first Flight One Ephrata player to advance to the latter rounds since Coach Mike Garman took over four years ago.
"Emily stepped up and did a tremendous job," Garman said. "That’s the way Emily plays. She gives it all she’s got and never quits and just battles and fights…She certainly did that. Overall, she had just a tremendous year. For her to do what she did in her senior year…She just had a great year."
Epler, whose signature win this season was a victory over Abby Belser of Manheim Township, opened the tournament last Thursday with a solid 7-5, 6-2 victory over Donegal’s Steph Gainer.
She advanced to the quarterfinals where she dropped a hard-fought 6-4, 6-4 decision to third-seeded Katina Jones of Penn Manor.
"I wasn’t abler to see that match but from what I was told, she played really well," Garman said of Epler. "She lost 6-0, 6-1 earlier this year to Jones, and this time she really gave her a match. Jones is only a ninth grader but is a real good player."
In the first consolation round, Epler was upended by Sarah Sambrick of Lampeter-Strasburg, 6-2, 6-1 which sent the Ephrata senior to the seventh-place match. Facing Donegal’s Molly Brubaker, the fourth seed in the tournament, Epler came up short to end her year with an overall record of 9-8.
As for Smith, the EHS junior carried over her success from the year into the post season. She opened with a convincing 6-3, 6-0 victory over Conestoga Valley’s Olivia Patrick, and continued her dominance in a 6-1, 6-3 quarterfinals victory over Erika Diffendall of Lancaster Catholic.
In the semifinals, Smith again breezed through, earning a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Pequea Valley’s Marianna Riehl to advance to the finals. In the finals, Smith, who finished the year at 14-2, faced unbeaten Lauren Collins of Manheim Township. Smith took Collins down to the wire before dropping a hard-fought 6-4, 7-5 decision.
"What a great job for Brittany, getting to the finals in Flight Three is just a tremendous accomplishment," Garman said. "(Against Collins), there were times where she maybe could have taken a step back but she didn’t. She showed me some heart and soul. She was tremendously determined, and I think she learned a lot playing at that level, in the lime light. I think it will only make her better for the future."
In addition to Epler and Smith, several other players from Ephrata and Cocalico competed at leagues.
In Flight One, Cocalico’s top player Allison Witmer suffered a 6-1, 6-1 opening round loss to Township’s Belser.
In Flight Two, Ephrata’s Cassandra Enck earned a hard-fought 2-6, 6-3, 10-6 victory over Cocalico’s Natalie Sukanick in Round One. Enck then bowed out in the quarterfinals, dropping a 6-4, 6-3 decision to Grace Kensinger of Manheim Central.
Cocalico’s Courtney Murphy opened with a 4-6, 6-2, 10-0 victory over Hempfield’s Carly Deihm in Flight Four. Murphy then suffered a 6-4, 1-6, 10-6 loss to Erin Zern of Donegal in the quarterfinals. Macy Smith of Ephrata also competed in flight Four but dropped a 6-2, 7-5 decision to CV’s Yana Kohler in the first round.
In Flight One doubles play, Epler and Smith teamed for a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Solanco’s top tandem in the first round. However, they were knocked off in Round two by Cedar Crest in a 6-2, 6-3 decision.
Witmer and Sukanick represented Cocalico’s top doubles team but were knocked off 6-4, 6-2 by the Penn Manor team in the first round.
In Flight Two doubles, Lauren Waskowicz and Jill Eiding combined for a first-round win but fell in the quarterfinals. And in Flight Three doubles, Cocalico’s Rachel Brandt and Ali Stafford dropped an opening round 8-5 match to Manheim Central. More TENNIS, page B-6