HANOVER -- In defeat, the Dallastown girls' tennis doubles team of Emily Westenberger and Danielle Lucabaugh found a glimmer of hope.
When Westenberger and Lucabaugh met Susquehannock's Katie Wagner and Adrianna Bullaj in the regular season, the Wildcats were soundly beaten in the first set. But Westenberger and Lucabaugh put up a strong fight in the second set against the Warrior standouts. While they ended up dropping that set as well in a 6-2, 7-6 (9) loss, the Wildcats left that match believing there wasn't much separating the two teams.
Nearly a month later, Westenberger and Lucabaugh proved they could make up that difference. Dallastown's No. 1 team, which entered the York-Adams League Doubles Tournament as the No. 2 seed, rallied from an ominous deficit in the third set to claim a 6-1, 1-6, 7-6 (5) victory over the top-seeded Warriors in the Class AAA championship match at South Western High School on Wednesday.
There was little drama in the Class AA finals. The York Catholic pair of Anna Spoden and Maddie Kepner routed Biglerville's Carlee Brumgard and Jenna Glass, 6-3, 6-1. The triumph marked the fourth year in a row that Spoden was a part of the winning doubles pairing in AA.
"We lost the first set pretty good," Lucabaugh said of their doubles loss back on Sept. 12. "The second set was back-and-forth, just like the last one (Wednesday)."
Despite the earlier loss, the Wildcats believed they weren't far away from achieving a goal they set at the beginning of the season.
"I think we knew that we had a chance," Westenberger said. "We didn't count ourselves out."
The Wildcats dominated from the outset and surprised even themselves by taking the first set in lopsided fashion. But with the league's two-time Class AAA singles champion, Wagner, on the opposite side of the net, the Dallastown team knew it was far from over. That became evident when the Warrior pair returned the favor in the second set.
"I think their coach gave them some tips," Lucabaugh said. "They just played better. They were making a lot of mistakes in the first set."
In the third set, the Wildcats found themselves staring at a 5-4 deficit but didn't blink. Bullaj and Wagner made some hitting errors that helped the Dallastown team even things up. From that point on, it became a battle of wills.
"We wanted it so badly," Lucabaugh said.
"I think our hearts were in it," Westenberger said.
Westenberger and Lucabaugh probably won't have time to bask in the glory of their victory at Thursday's practice in preparation for Friday's District 3 Class AAA first-round team tournament contest. To get ready for Hershey, their first-round opponent, the Wildcats will scrimmage, ironically, the Warriors.
"It might be a little awkward," Lucabaugh said, while Westenberger shot down the call for them to wear their gold medals during the practice.
Spoden and Kepner, on the other hand, won't have the luxury of an extra day of preparation. The Irish begin their quest for a Class AA team title Thursday against Brandywine Heights at 3:45 p.m. at the Hershey Racquet Club.
No matter what happens Thursday, it has already been another banner week for Spoden. She wraps up her illustrious high school career with three league singles titles and four league crowns in doubles, all in Class AA.
"They're both fun," Spoden said. "But I like doubles, because you get to share it with someone. You're less lonely out on the court. Sometimes it can be a lot more fun to play doubles."
It marked the third different partner that Spoden teamed up with to win those four titles. She paired with her sister, Ava, during her freshman and sophomore years. She then played with Lainey Elliott en route to last year's title.
Playing with Kepner, however, wasn't very difficult for the left-handed Spoden.
"We are friends both off and on the court," she said. "We got to know each other really well and that chemistry really translates on the court."
Kepner agreed. "It's great playing with Anna, especially because she knows that when you miss, and we all miss, that you just move on from it."
Consolations: Central York's Emily Kuhn was denied in her attempt to win a third-straight AAA doubles crown with a different partner.
She won in 2010 with Julia Learmonth and in 2011 with Tori Gray, but had to settle for third place this year. Kuhn and Taylor Strausbaugh lost by a 6-3, 7-5 clip to Wagner and Bullaj in the semifinals, but rebounded to defeat Mackenzie and Madison Bortner of South Western (6-1, 6-1) in the consolation match.
In the program's first year in the league, the Bermudian Springs duo of Bryn Yurick and Morgan Anthony outlasted York Catholic's No. 2 pair of Sarah Koury and Emily Javitt (6-3, 3-6, 6-2) in the third-place AA match. Yurick and Anthony fell to Spoden and Kepner by a 6-2, 6-0 clip in the semifinals while Koury and Javitt were downed by Brumgard and Glass, 6-1, 6-2.
-- Reach Ryan Vander sloot at sports@yorkdis patch.com.