Given his choice, Anthony Miserendino would have gladly played anyone but Mack Meyer in the championship match of the York-Adams League Class AAA Singles Tennis Tournament.
"It's really hard to play your teammate" Miserendino said after he won the all-South Western final, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.
Joel Garrett of Hanover captured the Class AA title with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Biglerville's Cole Herzing.
"Mack and I have been friends for so long," Miserendino said. "With him being a senior, it was really hard to take away something he really wanted. But, at a certain point, you have to do it for yourself."
Miserendino, who played No. 2 singles for the Mustangs (behind Meyer) this season, was seeded seventh entering the tournament. However, he swept to five straight victories, taking out three No. 1 singles players along the way.
"In the offseason, I was training a lot and working with a couple of different people," Miserendino said. "I think that helped get me to where I'm at now."
Miserendino admitted he was really nervous at first when Meyer forced the championship match into a third, and deciding, set.
"I didn't want to be up a set and drop a set like that because I've lost matches like that before," Miserendino said. "I was telling myself you have to come out with intensity (in the third set), and you got to give it everything you have."
The two, who waged groundstroke duels throughout the match, split the first six games of the last set before Miserendino held serve to go up, 4-3. He then broke Meyer's serve for a 5-3 edge. Meyer stayed alive with a service break, but Miserendino broke right back to win the match.
Miserendino, a junior, followed in the footsteps of South Western's Tommy Nicklas, who earned last year's league singles AAA title.
"It's great to keep it (the championship) inside the school, and I'm going to try and keep it there next year," Miserendino said.
While Miserendino and Garrett won the titles, Dallastown's Adam Gante and York Suburban's Michael Hogg took the Class AAA and AA third-place matches, respectively.
Gante defeated Central York's Ryan Keffer, 7-5, 6-0, and Hogg rallied to beat Susquehannock's Kaltrin Bullaj, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4.
Susquehannock's Zach Hanson recorded a 10-3 (pro set) decision over York Catholic's Nico Mucci in the Class AA fifth-place match.
Keffer earned a set point on Gante, but the Dallastown senior saved it and continued on to the straight-sets victory.
"When you have a set point against you, you have to play safely, but you have to play your game," Gante said. "That (saving the set point) got me going, and I started to turn things up."
Gante also won when he and Keffer met during the regular season.
"I had confidence going in, but he came out strong right at the start," Gante said. "He probably has one of the best serves in the county."
Gante was forced into the third-place match after losing to Meyer in the semifinals Saturday.
"It was a hard loss, but I regrouped, and I got it today," Gante said. "I feel my consistency was a key."
Hogg, meanwhile, knew he was in for a tough match with Bullaj. The last time they played two years ago, the match went three sets. Bullaj, by consistently attacking, was able to win the first set in the latest meeting.
"After the first set, I started keeping the ball deeper in the court so he wouldn't come up so much," Hogg said. "I felt my mental concentration helped me pull this one out today. I tried to keep my head in the game the whole way."
The top four finishers in Class AA and the first three finishers in AAA gained spots in the District 3 Tournament.
Dick VanOlinda covers high school sports for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at dvanolin firstname.lastname@example.org or 505-5407.