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Dallastown High School tennis star Gavin Smith, the York-Adams AAA champ, earned a silver medal in the District 3 Class AAA Singles Tournament. (File Photo)
Agold medal in the York-Adams League Class AAA Singles Tennis Tournament.

A silver medal in the District 3 Class AAA Singles Tournament.

A berth in the state singles tournament.

Dallastown star Gavin Smith has had a tremendous season. But the best may still be to come for the Wildcats' junior. Don't be surprised if Smith closes out his final high school season next year as the district champion.

"My goal next year is to go after the district title," he said. "My quarterfinal match this year was the big turning point for me in district singles. Hopefully, I can replicate that performance in the finals next year."

Smith recorded a 6-4, 6-2 decision over Rusian Nurullaev in the quarters. However, he wasn't able to replicate the performance in this year's final. That wasn't Smith's fault. Cedar Cliff senior John Dixon wouldn't let the York-Adams champ execute his game plan.

The bigger, stronger Dixon earned the 2007 district championship yesterday with an impressive 6-0, 6-0 victory. The match was played at ELCO High School in Myerstown, Lebanon County. Dixon was a wall that Smith couldn't go over, around, and certainly not through.

"He was definitely overpowering me," Smith said. "I like to play a power game, too, but, unfortunately, I'm not as big or strong as him. I was trying a whole bunch of things, but nothing worked."

Smith got off to a promising start when he jumped out to a 40-15 lead on Dixon's serve in the first game. But Dixon, who plans to play Division I college tennis next year at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, rallied to win the game and began a run of 12 straight
victories. Dixon mixed deep, booming groundstrokes with a sliced backhand to prevent Smith from getting into a groove.

"John's in a different class than the other players in the tournament," Dallastown coach Mark Koons said. "I don't know if Gavin can beat him, but Gavin doesn't think he can beat him, and that's 80 percent of it."

Despite yesterday's setback, Koons is proud of the way that Smith raised the level of his play in recent weeks. "The last week and half to two weeks, he's played the best tennis that he's played all season," Koons said. "Gavin's definitely taken a step forward this year. I know he won't be satisfied with that, though. He'll keep working to get even better."

Koons knows that Smith's 2008 goal is attainable.

"Hopefully, what happened here (in the final) will make Gavin even hungrier next year," Koons said. "He'll come in (to next year's tournament) as one of the favorites. But there are some areas in which Gavin needs to work to get better. He has to improve his serve and his slice shot. Today was the first time that Gavin saw a first-class slice (from Dixon)."

Smith will savor this year's accomplishments while looking forward to the following year. "I definitely accomplished something this year," Smith said. "It's hard to make it to the district final. I would rather make the final of this than win the county (league) tournament."

--- Smith earned a spot in the final with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Daniel Mackey of Chambersburg. Dixon beat Michael Duong of Cocalico, 6-4, 4-1 (retired) in the other semifinal.

--- In Class AA, Biglerville's Matt Thomas bowed to Tommy Meyer of Conrad Weiser, 6-0, 6-1, in one semifinal. Nick Shadowen of Trinity outlasted Alex Veronis of Lancaster Catholic, 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, in the other semifinal. Shadowen stopped Meyer, 6-4, 6-2, in the title match, and Veronis grabbed the final berth in states by topping Thomas, 7-5, 6-2, in the third-place match.

Dick VanOlinda covers high school sports for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at dvanolinda@york dispatch.com or at 505-5407.