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Lauver, French win D6 Doubles title

Familiar Adversaries

Sentinel photo by MIKE GOSS
Juniata’s Adam French, left, and Max Lauver pose after winning the District 6 Class 2A Doubles championship against their teammates Gavin Kint and Jack Strawser.

MIFFLINTOWN–Juniata’s Max Lauver and Adam French teamed up to take home the gold medal in the District 6 Class 2A Doubles title match, on Wednesday. The match, which took place at Juniata Elementary School, was competitive, yet typical for Lauver and French, but with one distinction–the opposing players battling for the title were their teammates, Gavin Kint and Jack Strawser.

The match was intense, with plenty of back-and-forth moments, but when it was all over, there were no hard feelings between teammates. Someone had to win and someone had to lose and in the case of the title match, it was Lauver and French who prevailed, 6-3, 6-3.

“Very seldom does a coach get to have two doubles teams in the finals. The fact that we had the chance to do that–it doesn’t happen very often. I was very proud of both (teams),” Juniata coach Sheri Landis said. “My hope was that it wasn’t going to be one team winning big and the other losing quickly. The fact that both teams played really well–that means a lot to me and I know it means a lot to them.”

The match began with the teams picking up wins in alternating matches. Whichever team served, won in the first six games, and the set was tied at 3-3.

Kint registered multple service aces and Lauver dominated the net as the two, evenly-matched teams looked to get the edge.

Sentinel photo by MIKE GOSS
Juniata’s Max Lauver returns a volley during the District 6 Class 2A Doubles championship match on Wednesday evening at Juniata Elementary School.

The biggest momentum swing of the first set came in the seventh game. Strawser was serving, but he and Kint fell behind 0-30, before battling back to tie the score at deuce. After the third deuce, Lauver and French took the advantage on a ball hit into the net by Kint and won the game on a Strawser miss-hit.

“It was weird, but it was an honor to play (against them),” Lauver said. “You have the tendency to tighten up when you’re playing your teammates because you want to impress them, the crowd and everyone.”

Once Lauver and French loosened up, they were able to cruise to a 6-3 victory in the first set. But, Lauver knew that this match was far from over and that his teammates weren’t going to keep their heads down going into the second set.

“They’re very good players and they fought hard,” Lauver said. “We knew they weren’t going to give up because that’s just who they are.”

Lauver and French started out the second set with a quick win, but Kint and Strawser fired back to knot the set at 1 apiece.

Sentinel photo by MIKE GOSS
Juniata’s Adam French returns a volley in the title match.

With Lauver serving, the duo fell behind 15-40 but scratched their way back to take a 2-1 lead. From there, Lauver and French got into a rhythm and took a 5-1 lead and looked to put the match away in the seventh game.

Staying true to character, Kint and Strawser rallied to win the next two games with the help of solid net-play by Strawser and high-powered serves from Kint.

“I knew (Kint’s) serve is strong and if he could hit that, he was going to win some games for his side,” Landis said.

The comeback was stopped short in the ninth game of the set as a return off the racket of Kint found its way into the net, giving Lauver and French, the game, the set, the match and the gold medal.

“I enjoyed it. I was glad we both got through–we were anticipating that,” French said about both Juniata duos duking it out for the title. “We were definitely nervous, but they played really well today… it was a really good effort by them.”

In singles play, French fell short in the quarterfinals and Lauver was the district runner-up, so being able to don the first place medals was an honor that both players were able to appreciate.

“It feels really good. I was glad to get at least one title this year,” Lauver said. “It means a lot. It’s my second and (French’s) first, so it’s special both ways.”

Despite making it to the district tournament in singles, French admitted to preferring and feeling more comfortable in doubles matches. Landis believes French’s style of play fits well in the doubles format and he is able to excel with Lauver by his side.

“Doubles is a totally different game. I know they’re both tennis, but they’re different,'” Landis explained. “(French) has played a lot of doubles and would probably consider doubles his favorite. I knew he’d be relaxed. He loves the volleying.”

Lauver and French will head to the state tournament later in the month, but before that, Juniata will compete in the District 6 Class 2A team tournament. A sure sign of the Indians’ chemistry was the lack of hard feelings toward each other during and after the match. Both sides were complimentary during play and Kint and Strawser were happy for their teammates, despite the outcome of the match.

“At the end of the day, we’re a team and we have team districts coming up next week, so they have to stay friends,” Landis said with a laugh.

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