District dominance MC doubles team claims gold
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
The Manheim Central boys have been knocking on the door for the past couple of years in the District Three Triple-A Tennis Doubles Championships.
In 2011, the Wolgemuth brothers, Drew and Colin, advanced to the semi-finals, where they suffered a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 setback to Cumberland Valley’s Andrew and Alec Grossman.
Then last year, Colin Wolgemuth teamed up with Josh Kaiser and the Barons again got to the final four before suffering a three-set loss (6-4, 3-6, 6-3) to Manheim Township’s David Musser and Andy Moshos.
Both times, the Central boys finished third.
Last Saturday, they not only got through the door. They kicked it down.
Colin Wolgemuth and Kaiser returned to the Hershey Racquet Club last Friday and Saturday as the number-two seed, where they went a perfect 4-0, winning all four matches in straight sets and capturing the District gold medal with a 6-3, 6-3 decision over Red Land’s top-seeded Ben Kunkel and Peter Landis.
"They played great tennis, man," Barons’ coach Ryan Jeckel remarked. "We went through the whole tournament without dropping a set. To do that against a strong field is pretty awesome."
With their run through Districts, Wolgemuth and Kaiser improved to 12-1 on the season while notching the Barons’ first District title in Jeckel’s six years at the helm.
"Just finally getting over that hurdle (after losing two years in a row in the semi-finals) and bringing home that gold is awesome," Jeckel said. "We definitely kinda went in this year feeling like, ‘OK, Josh and Colin have been here before, they know what to expect,’ and we really felt like we had an advantage going into this one."
They capitalized on that advantage to knock off Cumberland Valley’s Ethan Lynn and Milo Naugle 6-4, 6-4 in the opening round, and then Wolgemuth and Kaiser carried the momentum into a 6-2, 6-3 conquest of Manheim Township’s Dan Ansel and John Kitsock in the quarter-finals.
"That first match against Cumberland Valley had the closest scores," Jeckel said. "(But) sometimes those scores don’t show you how tough it was. At times we got broken, but we broke right back, fortunately for us."
It didn’t hurt that the Barons were perhaps a bit more fresh than Township’s tandem, who needed three sets (6-1, 6-7, 6-2) to oust South Western’s Anthony Miserendino and Quinn Meyer in the opening round.
Their situation was similar in the semi-finals facing a Hempfield squad consisting of Tom Athey and Nate Martinez that went to three sets (6-7, 6-4, 6-1) in the quarters before getting past Mechanicsburg.
Again, the Barons were dominant on their way to another win in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2 to punch their ticket to the championship match. Athey was part of the team that gave Kaiser and Wolgemuth their only loss this season, as he paired up with Derek Hagino to win L-L doubles title, 6-2, 6-4.
"We were definitely fresher not playing extended matches for the entire weekend," Jeckel said, "and getting off the court quickly was definitely an advantage for us."
With just one match standing between them and the District title, the Barons tried to draw on some scouting that they did on Red Land’s Kunkel and Landis in first-round play.
"We knew Kunkle was a strong player," Jeckel said. "Landis we weren’t that familiar with. Being at the bottom of the draw, we had a chance to watch the top half (on Friday) and we were watching them play and it gave us a chance to kinda scout a little bit and find some areas that we thought we could attack and exploit. I thought we did a good job of looking forward, but also staying focused on the moment."
Kunkel and Landis were forced to rally from a first-set loss to defeat Exeter Township’s Jonah Buczewski and Ryan Lessig 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 in the semi-finals.
But after Wolgemuth and Kaiser took the first set in the finals, 6-3, there would be no comeback for the Patriots. Central’s tandem ended it winning the second set by another 6-3 decision, giving them the District gold.
"The thing we talked about through the whole tournament was sticking true to what we do well as a team," Jeckel said, "and basically just playing to our strengths and hitting spots on the court. There were a lot of great tennis players in the field and it’s easy to get caught up in letting one guy take over the court. But our goal was to be the best team out there and we tried to stay pretty true to that."
They will now prepare for the State Triple-A Doubles Tournament, to be held next Friday and Saturday, May 24-25 at the Hershey Racquet Club. Wolgemuth and Kaiser will meet the District One third-place team in first-round action at 1:30 p.m. on Friday.
More DISTRICT GOLD, page B-5