KINGSTON — Stephanie Mazurek was the leader of an incredible team turnaround this season.
Now, Mazurek is breaking new ground as an individual.
The sophomore became the first Hazleton Area girls tennis singles player in more than a decade to reach the District 2-4 Class 3A Subregional semifinals when she won a pair of matches Thursday.
Mazurek pulled off the only “upset” of a higher-seeded player when the fifth seed rallied late in the first set then turned back a comeback by fourth-seeded Brigid Washburn of Wallenpaupack in the second set for a 7-6 (7-1), 6-3 quarterfinal victory.
“She came back very strong,” Mazurek said of Washburn’s rally from a 3-0 deficit to 3-3 in the second set. “She was hitting very well.
“She’s a tough player.”
The Cougars became a tough team to beat this season.
With Mazurek at No. 1 singles, the all-underclassmen lineup went on a worst-to-first turnaround.
Hazleton Area was 1-12 last season for the worst record in the 14-team Wyoming Valley Conference for schools of any size. This season, the Cougars went 13-0 to win the title.
“I wasn’t expecting anything like that to happen,” said Mazurek, who will meet top-seeded Amanda Southard from Williamsport in Friday’s 1 p.m. semifinals. “A lot of what changed over that year was just gaining more players and having experience, taking lessons. Everything helps. Any time you get to go out and play, you get better and that’s a positive for the whole team.”
Hazleton Area was knocked out of the District 2-4 team semifinals by Wallenpaupack, 3-1, Tuesday.
The match that was not decided was the first singles point between Mazurek and Washburn. They each had won one set and Mazurek was ahead, 3-2, in the third set when that match was halted.
Mazurek never let the two-hour match get to a third set Thursday. After she fell behind, 5-3, in the first set, Mazurek won seven of the next eight games, including the first-set tiebreaker where she opened a 5-0 lead and won, 7-1. She broke Washburn’s serve four times in that stretch and fought off a set point.
“I felt very relaxed and just focused on going as far as I can,” Mazurek said.
Before Thursday, Mazurek’s quarterfinal berth as a freshman last year matched Shannon Sabo (2005) and Maria Notaro (2010) for the deepest run by a Hazleton Area player in the previous 10 years.
Mazurek was the first WVC finalist on a day when the Lackawanna League continued a strong run through district competition.
After getting all four team semifinal berths, Lackawanna has four singles players left, along with two from Williamsport and two from the WVC.
The WVC was guaranteed of its second semifinalist when its top two Class 2A players met in the day’s last quarterfinal match, between the fourth and fifth seeds.
Wyoming Seminary’s Jacqui Meuser, also a quarterfinalist last year, made it a step further with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Holy Redeemer’s Angela Malinovitch.
“I tried to move as much as I could and move my opponent around as much as I could,” Meuser said. “That’s probably what I did best.”
Meuser won three times to earn a semifinal match with top-seed and defending champion Emily Jonsson from unbeaten District 2 Class 2A team champion Scranton Prep.
“She’s just very, very strong,” Meuser said. “It will be interesting.”
Kristi Pearage from Coughlin, in 3A, and Megan Obeid from Wyoming Seminary, in 2A, each reached the quarterfinals as seventh seeds before being eliminated.
Friday’s 1 p.m. semifinals at Kirby Park will be followed by the finals.
DISTRICT 2-4 CLASS AAA
Diana Rodriguez, Coughlin d. Bryden Peters, Wyoming Valley West, 6-0, 6-3; Mary Huffman, Scranton d. Alaina Williams, Crestwood, 6-0, 6-1; Lily Nowak, Hazleton Area d. Zoe Cykosky, Wallenpaupack, 6-4, 6-1; Denna Mahdavi, Scranton d. Kara Grenzberg, Crestwood, 6-2, 6-1.
1-Amanda Southard, Williamsport d. Rodriguez, 6-0, 6-1; 8-Sondra Lionetti, Abington Heights d. Jessica Borget, Pittston Area, 6-0, 6-1; 5-Stephanie Mazurek, Hazleton Area d. Sabrina Schlenker, Delaware Valley, 6-1, 6-0; 4-Brigid Washburn d. Huffman, 6-1, 6-2; 3-Isabel Bauer, Williamsport d. Nowak, 6-0, 6-1; McKenna Quinn, Delaware Valley d. Madison Jastremski, Wyoming Valley West, 6-2, 6-2; 7-Kristi Pearage, Coughlin d. Sara Swartz, Pittston Area, 6-2, 6-2; 2-Caroline Mattise, Abington Heights d. Mahdavi, 6-0, 6-1.
Southard d. Lionetti, 6-0, 6-0; Mazurek d. Washburn 7-6 (7-1), 6-3; Bauer d. Quinn, 6-0, 6-0; Mattise d. Pearage, 6-3, 6-1.
DISTRICT 2 CLASS AA
Haley Puterbaugh, Tunkhannock, d. Allison Aronica, Dunmore, 6-4, 6-1; Josmarilyn Rivas, GAR, d. Ashley Dunning, West Scranton 6-3, 6-4; Jessica Smith, MMI Prep d. Kierstin Grillo, Wyoming Area, 6-0, 6-0; Hannah Bonk, Dallas d. Emily Hviid-Mahon, Mid Valley, 2-6, 7-5, 6-2; Alyssa Santarelli, Valley View d. Lauren Richmond, Hanover Area, 6-2, 6-1; Samantha Kropa, Mid Valley d. Caitlyn Landau, 6-0, 6-0; Libby Pinto, MMI Prep d. Charlotte Maria, Holy Redeemer, 6-2, 6-2; Anna Thomas, Wyoming Area d. Brianna Grey, Tunkhannock, 6-0, 6-2; Victoria Hoffman, Hanover Area d. Sam Pritzlaff, Western Wayne, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6); Sarah Sposito, North Pocono d. Shayla Griffiths, Elk Lake, 6-1, 6-4.
1-Emily Jonsson, Scranton Prep d. Puterbaugh, 6-0, 6-0; Kella Pacifica, Holy Cross d. Jeneen Gallik, Honesdale, 7-5, 6-2; Annelise Mittmann, Montrose d. Rivas, 5-7, 7-5, 6-3; 8-Sarah Tofilska, North Pocono d. Smith, 0-6, 6-0, 6-2; 5-Angela Malinovitch, Holy Redeemer d. Bonk, Dallas, 6-2, 6-2; Darci Warner, Elk Lake d. Tyler Alpauph, Western Wayne, 6-2, 6-1; Lynndath Thelemaque, Berwick, 6-1, 6-1; 4-Jacqui Meuser, Wyoming Seminary 6-2, 6-3; 3-Natashia DeNunzio, Dunmore d. Kropa, 6-2, 6-1, Giselle Huertero GAR, d. Heather Schmidt, West Scranton, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-3; Pinto d. Trinity Gable Riverside, 6-0, 6-0; 6-Kathleen Fricke d. Thomas, 6-0, 6-2; 7-Megan Obeid, Wyoming Seminary, 6-1, 6-0; Victoria Hinds, Montrose d. Sabrina Woods, Honesdale, 7-5, 6-1; Cali Craig, Valley View d. Isabella Arndt, Berwick, 6-3, 6-2; 2-Maansi Malhotra, Scranton Prep d. Sarah Sposito, 6-4, 6-0.
Jonsson d. Pacifico, 6-0, 6-0; Tofilska d. Mittman, 6-1, 6-0; Malinovitch d. Warner, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0; Meuser d. Thelemaque, 6-3, 7-5; 3-DeNunzio d. Huertero, 6-0, 6-0; Fricke d. Pinto, 6-1, 6-0; Obeid d. Hinds, 6-0, 6-3; Malhotra d. Craig, 6-2, 6-2.
Jonsson d. Tofilska, 6-0, 6-0, Meuser d. Malinovitch, 6-2, 6-3; DeNunzio d. Fricke, 6-2, 6-0; Molhotra d. Obeid, 6-0, 6-1.