Susquehannock High School tennis star Katie Wagner found herself in a "weird position" on Monday afternoon.
A friend and teammate, Usha Baublitz, stood between Wagner and a third straight York-Adams Class AAA girls' singles championship. The matchup wasn't one that Baublitz would have picked, either, given a choice.
"I think when it started, it was hard because you have that bond (of friendship) already," Baublitz said. "It's really hard to remember that I'm playing my friend, but she's also an opponent."
Wagner, a senior, and Baublitz, a junior, were able to set aside their friendship for just a couple of hours as they pounded groundstrokes in a hard-fought match.
Wagner turned back Baublitz's challenge and completed her quest for a third consecutive crown with a 6-3, 6-4 victory.
Meanwhile, on an adjacent court at Wisehaven Tennis Club, Carlee Brumgard of Biglerville became the first player from her school to win a York-Adams Class AA girls' singles title with a 6-2, 6-0 triumph over Sarah Koury of York Catholic.
The matches were originally set for South Western High School, but were moved indoors because of Monday's rain.
Wagner jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first set before Baublitz won the next two games. Wagner then broke Baublitz's serve and held her own serve to take the set.
Baublitz kept playing at a high level in the second set and led, 4-3. Wagner, though, wouldn't be denied. She ran off three consecutive games to gain the title.
"She's definitely the best person I played," Wagner said afterward. "She's improved so much. Her forehand and backhand are both really good. I was able to take advantage when she hit to my forehand. That's my stronger point."
Baublitz was pleased with the way she played.
"A year ago, I wouldn't have played that well," she said. "When I first started to play with Katie, I thought she has no weaknesses. I don't know what I'm going to do. Yes, I'm upset because I lost, but it was a very educational match for me because now I know what I need to work on."
Wagner said it's "awesome" to become the league singles champion for the third straight year.
"Hopefully, I'll go into districts as the first seed. (Wagner is the defending District 3-AAA champion.) This one (the 2013 championship) is a little more special because to win two years in a row and then to get second in my senior year would have really bothered me," she said.
While Wagner will head off to college next year, Baublitz should still be a force in the Susquehannock lineup and one of the main contenders for the league singles crown.
Koury should also return to high school competition in 2014. The York Catholic junior didn't expect to play No. 1 singles for the Fighting Irish this year, but she ended up in the top spot and distinguished herself with three victories in the AA singles bracket before falling to Brumgard.
"I thought I played a pretty good season," Koury said. "I thought I played consistently out there. Carlee is a great player, and she has a really great slice game going. It's really hard to return a lot of those shots when she can get them right in front of the net."
Koury, who won the first two games of the match, admitted she was nervous playing in her first championship match.
"I think my nerves overcame me a lot," she said. "My mind was racing, and a lot of times I was thinking too hard about what shot to do."
Despite the setback, Koury found some positives in competing against a high-level player such as Brumgard.
"It was a good experience, and I can build on it for next year," she said.
Emily Kistler of Dallastown defeated Rachel Fabrick of South Western, 6-4, 6-3, in the Class AAA third-place match, and Haley Staub of Spring Grove won, 8-5, over Jessica Clancy of York Suburban in the fifth-place match.
Jenna Glass of Biglerville bested Catherine Vizzard of York Catholic, 6-2, 6-3, in the Class AA third-place match.
Kistler, Fabrick and Glass have qualified for District 3 action.
Dick VanOlinda covers high school sports for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at dvanolin firstname.lastname@example.org or 505-5407.