The names change, but one thing stays the same: the York Catholic girls' tennis team almost refuses to relinquish its grip on first place.
The Fighting Irish took a major step toward winning their sixth York-Adams Division II title in the past seven seasons on Tuesday by defeating York Suburban, 4-1, in a clash of unbeaten teams. The doubles matches were not played because of darkness.
York Catholic, which clinched at least a tie for the crown, can win it outright by defeating Biglerville on Thursday at Springettsbury Park.
The Fighting Irish continued their outstanding run this season even after losing three-time York-Adams Class AA singles champion Anna Spoden, along with three other players who competed in last year's singles tournament (Katarina DeFelice, Emily Javitt and Maddie Kepner). Spoden, DeFelice and Javitt graduated, and Kepner, a talented freshman player last fall, ran on York Catholic's cross country team this fall.
"We have a new type of team with new roles for each player," York Catholic head coach Paige Mundy said following Tuesday's match. "Today was a great testimony to the work ethic of these girls."
Perhaps no player had a more dramatic role reversal than Catherine Vizzard.
Vizzard, No. 10 on the team's depth chart last season, is playing No. 2 this year. She recorded a 7-6 (4), 6-2 victory on Tuesday.
"Catherine worked tirelessly on her game," Mundy said. "She came into this match undefeated, and that includes the crossover matches. She definitely is one of the key components of our success."
Mundy said that Vizzard's leap from No. 10 to No. 2 is the most significant jump she's seen in her coaching career.
"I felt she (Vizzard) would start for us, but I was uncertain as to how the lineup would look," Mundy said.
Vizzard, Maggie Javitt (Emily's sister) and the Thomas sisters (Kathryn and Carolyn) scored singles victories in the match against Suburban.
The Thomases won in straight sets at No. 4 and No. 5, respectively. Javitt, meanwhile, waged a three-hour groundstroke duel (rallies of 20 strokes weren't uncommon) with Suburban's Nneoma Amaechi, before prevailing, 6-4, 6-7 (1), 7-5.
Javitt trailed 2-0 and 3-1 in the final set before rallying for the victory. The York Catholic senior held serve to go up 6-5 and then broke Amaechi's serve to close out the match.
"I knew my team needed me, and my coach is always telling me, 'always keep fighting,'" Javitt said of her mindset when she fell behind in the third set. "I told myself, I have one set, and she has one set."
Javitt and her teammates began the season determined to write another chapter in the Fighting Irish success story.
"It's York Catholic's spirit," Javitt said, when asked how the team managed to stay on top despite losing key players. "Plus we have a lot of depth here."
Javitt's opponent is a success story in her own right. Amaechi was 22nd on the depth chart two years ago as a freshman, leaped to No. 5 last year and jumped to No. 3 this year.
"She quietly committed herself to tennis," Suburban coach Rebecca Toman said. "I don't think she did a lot of work with pros. I have a clinic each year, and she always comes to that."
Toman, whose team has just one senior starter, edged Biglerville, 4-3, earlier this year and was looking to take down the Fighting Irish and put itself in position to win the division title for the first time since 2006. However, York Catholic turned back the challenge.
"I feel we really competed today," Toman said. "I just wish the scores reflected how well my kids played."
Jessica Clancy earned the Trojans' point by winning No. 1 singles in straight sets.
OTHER GIRLS' TENNIS
SUSQUEHANNOCK 7, NORTHEASTERN 0: At Glen Rock, the Warriors rolled behind Katie Wagner, Usha Baublitz and Chelsey Simmers, who each won in singles and doubles. Hannah Brown and Sara Lynch also won in singles. The defending champion Warriors improved to 6-1 in York-Adams Division I and will take on Spring Grove (7-0) on Thursday in Glen Rock. If Susquehannock wins, it will earn a piece of the title. A Spring Grove victory would give the Rockets the outright crown.
DALLASTOWN 7, SOUTH WESTERN 0: At Dallastown, Christie Friedrich and Artika Saharan won in singles and at No. 1 doubles to lead the Wildcats. Emily Kistler, Haley Brown and Angela Friedrich also won singles points for Dallastown, which improved to 6-1 in York-Adams Division I. The Wildcats can still gain a share of the division crown if Susquehannock beats Spring Grove on Thursday and the Wildcats can beat Northeastern (1-5) that same day.
WEST YORK 4, KEN NARD-DALE 2: At West York, the Bulldogs captured both doubles matches to clinch the victory. Olivia Purtell and Shayla Lutzinger won the No.1 doubles match in straight sets, while Allison Morningstar and Montana Stump won the No. 2 doubles match in three sets. Morningstar and Lutzinger also each won a singles match. For the Rams, Alyssa Miller, Kathleen Glackin and Lilly Riale each won a singles match.
CENTRAL YORK 7, RED LION 0: At Central, Teah Gray, Taylor Strausbaugh and Brooke Hartzell won in singles and doubles to spark the Panthers. Dilina Patel and Leah Chiaverini won at No. 1 and No. 2 singles for Central.
NEW OXFORD 4, DOVER 3: At New Oxford, Jenna Doron, Dagney Markle, Jessica Soulliard and Emily Gouker won in singles for the Colonials. Faith Jackson took a singles point for Dover, which swept the doubles action.
-- Reach Dick VanOlinda at dvanolinda@yorkdis patch.com.