HERSHEY — Central York's Connor Bacha knew that practically everyone in the Hershey Racquet Club on Thursday afternoon was watching his match against Cedar Crest's Marka Resetar.
The teams split the first four matches (two singles and two doubles), leaving the outcome of the District 3-AAA clash up to Bacha and Resetar.
"I knew the situation, but tried to ignore it," Bacha said. "Thinking about it would put more pressure on myself."
Bacha handled the pressure well, rallying for 6-7 (6), 6-0, 6-2 victory that propelled the Panthers into Tuesday's quarterfinals.
Bacha's win at No. 3 singles, combined with doubles victories by Austin Pokopec and Corey Caskey (No. 1) and Kyle Varone and Mike Visco (No. 2) resulted in a 3-2 Central victory and a meeting with No. 4-seeded Hershey on Tuesday. The match is set for 11:30 a.m.
Meanwhile, Dallastown came up on the short end of a 3-2 match, falling to Central Dauphin. The Wildcats were seeded sixth and the Rams were seeded 11th.
Central's triumph over Cedar Crest was an upset, at least on paper, since the Lebanon County team entered as the No. 5 seed, and Central checked in as the No. 12 seed.
Cedar Crest captured the No. 1 and No. 2 singles matches, and had a set in hand at No. 3 singles.
However, Bacha rebounded and won the last two sets convincingly, running off nine straight games during one stretch.
"I changed rackets at the beginning of the second set," the Panthers' junior said. "My forehands were definitely better, and I was coming into the net better."
Bacha built a 3-0 advantage in the deciding third set before Resetar won two straight games, breaking Bacha's serve in the second game. Bacha responded by breaking right back in the sixth game and took the next two games to close out the match.
"I was pretty pumped up coming in, but I wasn't sure how I compared with the other players," Bacha said. "Winning that second set gave me quite a bit of momentum."
Central head coach Scott Jensenius was impressed with Bacha's performance.
"He was playing very competitive tennis," Jensenius said. "To rebound from losing a tie-breaker, that says something. Connor, whether he's winning or losing, shows you the same expression."
Before Bacha delivered the deciding point, Pokopec and Caskey and Varone and Visco supplied crucial points by sweeping the doubles matches.
"I thought to win the match we needed to win two doubles matches," Jensenius said. "We needed the doubles and at least one of the singles, and we pulled it off."
Wildcats fall just short: Dallastown's young team (the No. 2 through No. 9 players are sophomores) made a bid to join Central in the quarterfinals, but the Wildcats couldn't get the third point.
John Schmitt, the lone senior in the starting singles lineup, won at No. 1 for the Wildcats, and Hunter Jones pulled out a three-set victory at No. 3 singles. Dallastown bowed in three-set matches at No. 2 singles and No. 2 doubles.
A trainer attended to Dallastown's No. 2 singles player, Tyler Lilie, at the end of the first set.
"He pulled a groin muscle," Koons said. "He went on adrenaline for a while, but then he couldn't move."
Koons wasn't surprised that the team match was extremely close.
"It went about the way I expected," Koons said. "In the No. 2 doubles match, we won the second set, and after falling behind 3-0 in the third set, we got it back to 3-2, and we were serving at 30-love. If we would have won that game, who knows what might have happened."
The result may been disappointing, but Koons felt that competing in districts was an excellent learning experience for his players.
"The big thing with these guys is getting them here and seeing what team districts is all about," Koons said. "Our goal next year is to come up here with a chance of bringing hardware home."
— Reach Dick VanO'Linda at email@example.com.