Brandywine’s Rother­mel edges Ham­burg’s Bucheit for crown

The Southern Berks News - - SPORTS - By Jeff De­wees For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

There are times a ten­nis match can turn on a sin­gle game.

That hap­pened Thurs­day at Gov­er­nor Mif­flin dur­ing the Berks League sin­gles cham­pi­onship match be­tween ju­niors Quin Bucheit of Ham­burg and Brandywine Heights’ Ethan Rother­mel. The duo were locked in a long, en­gag­ing first set, tied at 5, when a gru­el­ing deuce game de­ter­mined not only who won that se­ries of points, but in- deed, the re­main­der of the match.

Bucheit and Rother­mel bat­tled through an eight-deuce af­fair un­til the Bul­lets’ top player broke Ham­burg’s ace to take a 6-5 lead.

Bucheit re­turned fire with a break of Rother­mel to force a first-set tiebreak, which went to the lat­ter by a 7-5 count.

But the gas tank was empty on the Ham­burg side of the net. As if the loss of the set stole what­ever wind was left from his sails, Bucheit never re­cov­ered.

Rother­mel rolled to a 7-6 (5), 6-0 win to claimed the Berks League top flight sin­gles cham­pi­onship. Both play­ers will be seen again in Her­shey at the Dis­trict 3 tour­na­ment, set to be­gin May 5 at Her­shey Rac­quet Club.

“It’s in­cred­i­ble, a dream come true,” Rother­mel said. “I thought even­tu­ally I could get here, but to do it ju­nior year, a year early, is awe­some.”

Dur­ing that long deuce game nei­ther player gave an inch of ground. It took a big­ger bite out of Bucheit than Rother­mel. Nei­ther said they con­sid­ered con­serv­ing en­ergy for the rest of the match – the mo­ment was the only thing that mat­tered.

“You know, I’ve been in those sit­u­a­tions be­fore, but I knew here that this was such an im­por­tant game at 5-all,” Rother­mel said. “I knew I had to dig in. There was no way I was con­ced­ing just to move on to the next game. You’ve got to try to win the game.”

Per­haps a gru­el­ing makeup slate of matches forced upon Bucheit was

the cul­prit. He played in three matches on Wed­nes­day due to the loss of Tues­day’s en­tire slate due to rain, which forced the fi­nal to Thurs­day. The fi­nal one, a semi­fi­nal bat­tle with Read­ing’s Joel Castillo, the Class AAA top seed, saw Bucheit rally, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4, for a place in the fi­nal.

What­ever the case, Bucheit be­gan to fade badly, phys­i­cally, late in the first set. He was ham­pered by a cough that wors­ened as the match wore on and be­came vis­i­bly flush and ex­hausted.

By the time his op­po­nent had wrapped up a first set that took 1 hour and 15 min­utes to play, there was noth­ing left. The sec­ond set took 20 min­utes.

“I was still tired from Wed­nes­day. One of those three matches was a three-set­ter,” Bucheit said. “Once I lost that first set, it was very dif­fi­cult for me to come back.

“I don’t have al­ler­gies. I think (the cough­ing) was just from be­ing so tired from (Wed­nes­day), and maybe a bit of the heat and hu­mid­ity got to me. It doesn’t hap­pen of­ten.”

Bucheit jumped out to an early lead in that first set with a hold and a break be­fore Rother­mel found his foot­ing by win­ning five of the next eight games.

“First two games I wasn’t re­turn­ing very well, shots were fly­ing in and I like to keep the er­rors to min­i­mum,” Rother­mel ad­mit­ted. “I was putting way more er­rors in than he was.”

That trend lev­eled off mid-set as Bucheit’s un­forced er­ror count be­gan to climb.

The rise of both play­ers to the league fi­nal this spring was not nec­es­sar­ily sur­pris­ing, though each went out early last sea­son (Rother­mel first round, Bucheit sec­ond) as sopho­mores. The lack of true lockdown ace at pow­er­house Wy­omiss­ing this spring, which had fi­nally bade good­bye to Dan Tri­foi, cer­tainly helped to smooth the path.

Rother­mel saw op­por­tu­nity this past off­sea­son.

“I worked re­ally hard over the sum­mer, work­ing on my strokes, work­ing on my foot­work,” he said. “Then this win­ter, I played a lot of in­door. I played a lot of the guys around here who were (in this tour­na­ment). Just get­ting ex­pe­ri­ence play­ing with them was huge.”

The pay­off, 10 months later, was that shiny gold medal hang­ing around his neck.

*** In the dou­bles fi­nals con­tested Fri­day, Read­ing se­nior Joel Castillo and ju­nior Luis Ri­vas-Cortez won the flight one ti­tle, de­feat­ing Wy­omiss­ing sopho­more Will Schreck and se­nior Ben Croft, 6-2, 6-2.

In flight two, Fleet­wood se­niors Adam Cook and Zack Schukraft de­feated Gov. Mif­flin se­nior Jonas Weaver and fresh­man Sean McLaugh­lin 11-10.

JEFF DE­WEES - FOR DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Berks sin­gles fi­nal­ists Ethan Rother­mel of Brandywine Heights, left, and Ham­burg’s Quin Bucheit pose with their medals fol­low­ing Thurs­day’s fi­nal. Rother­mel de­feated Bucheit, 7-6(5), 6-0.

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