Riley Lorenz proved Monday there's only room for one unbeaten player at Oneonta High.
Lorenz, a junior, made quick work of teammate Emerson Kelby, winning, 6-3, 6-0, in the Section Four Class B title match on a warm afternoon at Wilber Park.
Lorenz improved to 18-0. Kelby, an eighth-grader, fell to 16-1.
"It's so tough (to play a teammate)," Lorenz said of the match that took about an hour. "Right before the match started, I was nervous. I wasn't sure how I'd do. It worked out in the end."
OHS coach Paul van der Sommen said he wasn't sure if teammates had ever faced in a sectional final but was sure no tandem in OHS history had done so.
"Besides it being a rare thing, they aren't seniors," van der Sommen said. "It might happen again next year. They are very good. ... These two kids are higher quality than the rest of the league."
Lorenz and Kelby advance to the Section Four State Qualifier, which is Friday and Saturday at the Binghamton Tennis Center.
"This gives me a lot of confidence," Lorenz said of the qualifier, where the top three in the section _ combined in all classes _ advance to the state tournament. "A sectional win is a big deal. Knowing I am one of the best at the state qualifiers helps a lot."
So is it out of the question for these two to meet again?
"Riley will make it to the finals," van der Sommen said. "I think he has a chance (to win it). Emerson, I wouldn't be surprised. But I'd like to see him make it to the semifinals and at least play for third place."
The Yellowjackets had already clinched the Class B team championship with 49 points to Elmira Notre Dame's 36.
Lorenz, who started the season with a 112-game undefeated streak, broke Kelby in the second game en route to a 3-0 lead.
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Kelby won the fourth game and the two held serve the rest of the set.
Kelby said getting behind early didn't help him.
"It's pretty tough, especially against someone at his level," Kelby said. "It's mentally challenging."
Kelby did show he could, at times, stand toe-to-toe with Lorenz, using a sharp return and a strong serve to keep his teammate guessing.
"Emerson played great," Lorenz said of the first set. "I held it together and got it in the end."
Lorenz used a consistent and hard serve to keep Kelby at bay. Even in the rare occurrence when Lorenz would fault on his first serve, he'd come back with a serve almost as hard. He again built a 3-0 lead in the second set, this time breaking Kelby's serve twice.
"Once (Kelby) lost serve off the bat, it's discouraging," van der Sommen said. "Now he's copying the first set. ... And once Riley got into the mode of hitting the ball well and finishing, it's frustrating."
Unlike the first set, Lorenz dominated the fourth game and cruised from there.
"I kind of lost any focus I had," Kelby said of the second set. "It snowballed into a 6-0 win for him."
Lorenz said his serve was key in the second set.
"My serve picked up a lot," he said. "My nerves wore off and I started to play my best."
The difference in this match, van der Sommen said, was maturity.
"You look at it _ it's an eighth-grader against a junior," he said. "Basically, Emerson is getting exposed more and next year, this match would be at a higher level. For an eighth-grader to make the finals of sectionals is good. Not too many eighth-graders make it."
P.J. Harmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-432-1000, ext. 229.