COL­LI­SION COURSE?

Ha­zle­ton Area’s Mazurek, Nowak ad­vance to District 2-4 Class AAA sin­gles semi­fi­nals

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - SPORTS - STAFF RE­PORT

WILKES-BARRE — One match.

That’s all that sep­a­rates Ha­zle­ton Area’s Stephanie Mazurek and Lily Nowak from the chance to face one an­other and even­tu­ally be­come the first District 2-4 Class AAA sin­gles ten­nis cham­pion in the Lady Cougars’ 25-year his­tory.

Both play­ers ad­vanced to the sub­re­gional semi­fi­nals Thurs­day, breez­ing through their first two matches of the tour­na­ment at the Kingston Rac­quet Club and Kirby Park, the for­mer un­til the lat­ter’s out­door courts dried fol­low­ing Wed­nes­day’s rain.

Mazurek, the top seed, blanked Pittston Area’s Char­ity McLeod 6-0, 6-0 in her first-round match, then over­whelmed Wil­liamsport’s Mia Shuler 6-0, 6-1.

“I was very happy with my play,’’ said Mazurek, who hasn’t lost a high school sin­gles match since fall­ing to Wil­liamsport’s Amanda Southard 3-6, 6-6, 6-3 in last year’s sub­re­gional fi­nal. “I tried not to fo­cus on who I was play­ing or who I might be play­ing, but rather I fo­cused on play­ing my game.’’

Mazurek ad­mit­ted that the loss to Southard re­mains stuck in her craw.

“It’ s mo­ti­vated me a lot ,’’ Mazurek, a se­nior, said. “I could have per­formed a lot bet­ter here last year. Hope­fully, I can keep play­ing at the level I’ve been play- ing at. ... This is what I’ve been work­ing to­ward and train­ing for to get this (sub­re­gional cham­pi­onship).’’

Mazurek will face Wal­len­pau­pack’s Phoebe Cykosky in the semi­fi­nals. Cykosky beat North Po­cono’s Sarah Tofliska 6-2, 6-4 in her quar­ter­fi­nal match.

Mean­while, Nowak re­cov­ered nicely from sur­viv­ing her three­plus hour marathon against North Po­cono’s Sarah Spos­ito in Tues­day’ s sub­re­gional team com­pe­ti­tion. The Ha­zlet on Area ju­nior had her way with Delaware Val­ley’s Katie Cooney 6-0, 6-1 in­doors, then du­pli­cated her in a 6-1, 6-0 rout of Wal­len­pau­pack’s Heidi Wash­burn in the quar­ters at Kirby Park.

“I did not step one foot on a ten­nis court all day Wed­nes­day,’’ Nowak said. “I was rested and ready to go and I ac­tu­ally played re­ally well.’’

Com­pared to Tues­day, when Mazurek, Nowak and the Lady Cougars de­feated North Po­cono on a sunny, sum­mer-like day, con­di­tions Tues­day were over­cast and damp — more to Nowak’s lik­ing.

“I didn’t drop a bead of sweat,’’ she laughed.

Of course, Nowak did not face the same kind of pres­sure that she over­came on Tues­day ei­ther.

That will change to­day start­ing with her semi­fi­nal match against Abing­ton Heights’ Lau­ren Car­roll, the tour­na­ment’s No. 3 seed. Car­roll needed three sets to elim­i­nate Spo­si­tio 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.

“I’ ve never played her be­fore,’’ Nowak said, “but I’m think­ing it will be a tough match.’’

Should both Nowak and Mazurek win, they will meet in a rematch of last year’s District 2 fi­nal won by Mazurek 7-5, 6-3. Only this time, the win­ner would be crowned sub­re­gional cham­pion and be­come the first Ha­zle­ton Area sin­gles ten­nis player — girl or boy — to ad­vance to the PIAA tour­na­ment. To­gether, they won the District 2-4 dou­bles ti­tle last year.

First things first, their semi fi­nal matches to­day be­gin­ning at 1 p.m. The ti­tle match will fol­low.

Crest­wood’s Abby Bi­elecki and Rachel McFar­land lost their first matches on Thurs­day. Bi­elecki fell to McLeod 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 and Pittston Area’s Abby Con­nors elim­i­nated McFar­land 6-0, 6-0.

In Class 2A, MMI Prep’s Katharine Pinto and Jackie Braun­stein each won her open­ing-round match be­fore be­ing ousted.

Pinto out­lasted River­side’s Sa­man­tha Labrosky 7-6 (7-3, 6-2 ahead of a 6-2, 6-0 loss to No. 4-seeded Ni­cole Joan­lanne of Wy­oming Sem­i­nary.

Braun­stein was a 6-4, 6-3 win­ner over Hones dale’ s Leigha Walsh in the pre­lim­i­nary round, be­fore she lost to Dal­las’ Han­nah Bonk 6-2, 6-2.

WAR­REN RUDA / STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Ha­zle­ton Area’s Stephanie Mazurek hits a back­hand to Char­ity McLeod of Pittston Area dur­ing the District 2-4 Class AAA Sin­gles Ten­nis Cham­pi­onships on Thurs­day at the Kingston Rac­quet Club. Mazurek de­feated McLeod and Wil­liamspor t’s Mia Shuler on her way to a ber th in to­day’s semi­fi­nals.

LILY NOWAK Ad­vances to District 2-4 ten­nis semi­fi­nals

WAR­REN RUDA / STAFF PHO­TOg­RA­PHER

Ha­zle­ton Area’s Stephanie Mazurek re­turns a shot to Pittston Area’s Char­ity McLeod dur­ing the first round of the District 2-4 Class 3A Sin­gles Ten­nis Cham­pi­onships on Thurs­day at the Kingston Rac­quet Club.

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