Katie Wagner's quest for a second-straight District 3 girls' tennis singles championship appeared in serious jeopardy Monday afternoon.
The Susquehannock High School star lost the first set of the Class AAA title match to Wilson's Sruthi Kamprath and was losing, 3-1, in the second set. Kamprath, who bowed to Wagner in last year's final, was three games away from reversing the 2012 outcome.
Wagner, though, refused to be denied in her bid for another gold medal. The Warriors' senior found her groove and rallied for 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory.
"After I lost the first set, I thought, 'oh, God,'" Wagner said. "I had to realize, this is the championship, and I can't just give up. My shots weren't on, so I just had to be more patient."
Patience, instead of power, was the answer for Wagner, who is used to consistently crushing winners with her powerful forehand.
"I didn't try to kill the ball, and I love killing the ball," she said. "I just had to place it more and be patient. I tried to make her hit an extra ball."
Kamprath kept Wagner on the move with shots from corner to corner, but the York-Adams champion used her quickness to track down balls and keep the points alive.
"Sruthi played very aggressive," Susquehannock coach Marianne Michels said. "She was attacking and Katie had to play defense. Katie's a basketball player. She knows how to play defense."
Wagner won four straight games in the second set to wipe out the 3-1 deficit. Kamprath, though, kept applying pressure, using a service break to take a 4-3 edge in the third, and deciding, set. Wagner broke right back, winning the game on a forehand passing shot. She then held her serve for 5-4 and broke Kamprath again for the championship.
"She (Kamprath) is a lot more consistent," Wagner said. "Her shots are right in the corner, and she definitely got a lot better (from last year). Winning last year put more pressure this year, especially with it being my senior year. I didn't want to come in second this year after finishing first last year."
Michels was confident that Wagner would "turn things around" after losing the first set.
"I know Katie is a fighter," Michels said. "For Katie, winning the title for the second year in a row is wonderful. She's worked so hard."
Wagner was also pushed in the semifinals. She outlasted Exeter's Ali Snyder, 7-5, 6-4. Kamprath bested Penn Manor's Katina Jones, 7-6 (4), 6-2, in the other semifinal.
Wagner is the first player from the York-Adams League to capture two consecutive District 3 singles titles since Carrie Bentzel of Spring Grove in 1986 and 1987. When Bentzel played, there was just one class.
Wagner will begin her quest for a state title on Friday, Nov. 1, also at Hershey Racquet Club.
"Last year, I only made it to the second round," she said. "To win it would be amazing, but I definitely want to make it further than last year. That's my goal."
York Catholic falls: In District 3 team competition on Monday, York Catholic bowed to Pequea Valley, 3-0, in the opening round of the Class AA Tournament.
The Fighting Irish's Sarah Koury was winning her match at No. 1 singles, 6-3, 5-7, 3-1, and York Catholic's No. 2 doubles team of Carolyn Thomas and Jenna Koury needed to win just one more game to secure a victory when the matches were called off the court because Pequea Valley had captured No. 2, singles, No. 3 singles and No. 1 doubles. Thomas and Jenna Koury were ahead, 6-3, 5-4.
-- Dick VanOlinda covers high school sports for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at dvano firstname.lastname@example.org or at (717) 505-5407.