HERSHEY -- Gathered in a hallway at the Hershey Racquet Club on Wednesday afternoon, the York Catholic girls' tennis players had mixed emotions.
Silver medals hung around their necks, given to them just moments before after the Irish fell to Wyomissing, 3-0, in the District 3-AA team championship match.
Some players smiled about the accomplishment. Others stared with blank faces as their coach, Paige Mundy, shared her thoughts.
"I told them they represented their school," Mundy said. "To be one of three teams with medals around your neck today is a tremendous achievement. At the same time it can't be satisfactory. You have to quest for more."
The Irish accomplished their goal of qualifying for the PIAA state tournament. But they also fell just short in the district championship for the third time in five years. Wyomissing has now won two consecutive district titles.
"They're the defending district champs," Mundy said. "We knew it would be a difficult match-up for us today. Our intention was to go out and compete on every court."
Audrey Ann Blakely, the District 3-AA singles champion and the likely favorite for the state singles title, defeated York Catholic's Anna Spoden, 6-1, 6-0, in the No. 1 singles match.
"I've known Audrey Ann for awhile and she's always extremely tough," said Spoden, who was a three-time York-Adams Class AA singles champion. "She's the best girl in the district right now. I knew coming in it was going to be tough going. She's very aggressive. She's very powerful."
York Catholic's Sarah Koury fell to Caroline Patillo, 6-1, 6-0, in the No. 3 singles match while the team of Kathryn Thomas and Katarina DeFelice lost, 6-0, 6-2, in the top doubles match. The No. 2 singles match and No. 2 doubles match were not completed once the team outcome was determined.
The season is far from over for York Catholic, however. The Irish will regroup for the opening round of the team state tournament, which begins Tuesday. The Irish will face the District 11 champion.
York Catholic is still searching for its first state tournament win in program history.
Spoden, one of three York Catholic seniors, will look to add to her state medal count. During her freshman and sophomore seasons, she and her sister, Ava, were runners-up in doubles in the state tournament. This year, Spoden will compete in the state singles tournament after finishing third in District 3-AA.
"We just have to focus on our game right now," Spoden said. "At this level everyone is really good. Only 16 teams in the whole state make it to this level. So you know each match is going to be really tough."
Susquehannock: The Susquehannock girls' tennis team, meanwhile, won the third-place District 3-AAA match-up over Cedar Crest, 3-2, on Wednesday at Hershey to qualify for the PIAA tournament.
The Warriors lost both doubles matches but won each singles match.
The Susquehannock winners were: Katie Wagner, who defeated Catherine Bond (6-1, 6-1); Adriana Bullaj, who beat Madeleine Overholt (6-3, 6-1); and Usha Baublitz, who downed Madison Fortna (6-3, 6-2).
Susquehannock will now take on the District 1 champion next Tuesday in a first-round state match.
-- Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.