Imagine being on the foul line knowing that if you hit this free throw, your team will win. Or being up in the bottom of the ninth inning with the bases loaded, and a championship at stake.
That was the scenario for Bethlehem junior Peter Collins in Friday’s Section II, Class AA tennis final against Guilderland.
With the match score tied 4-4, only Collins was still playing. Fans and players surrounded the court to watch Pistol Pete and Sam Dordick go at it. Twice, Dordick forced Collins to lose his match point opportunity. Yet, Collins shook it off with apparent ease.
As Collins threw the ball into the air on his third match point, everyone in the crowd held their breath. The serve was a good one, but Dordick managed to return it. The ball flew through the air as Collins inched backwards. His eyes, along with everyone else’s, followed the ball until it finally landed out of bounds to give Collins a 6-3, 6-7, 6-4 victory at No. 2 singles.
As soon as the ball landed, Collins turned around and pointed at his cheering fans and teammates. Bethlehem coach Steve Smith jumped up and punched he air in exuberance before running up to celebrate.
`He’s [Collins] just really come of age on the court,` said Smith. `He was solid.`
`I had to come out and really get focused, and I did it,` said Collins.
Even in his moment of glory, however, Collins didn’t want to take credit for the win.
`It’s my coach and our team. I’m not the reason [we won],` said Collins.
It was Bethlehem’s third Sectional team title in the last four years ` a fact that didn’t escape Guilderland coach Curtis Snyder’s mind.
`I know that you loaned this [the title] to Nisky for a year, but now it’s going home,` Snyder told the Eagles.
Bethlehem won this title partly because of the seniors on the team. Mike Amico, Jesse Hoffman, and Kyle Gross are a trio that have gone a combined 56-4 over the length of their careers. Amico. Hoffman and Gross all won their singles matches Friday.
But mostly, it was about Collins, who earned the point that gave Bethlehem another Sectional title.
The Eagles finished with a 14-0 record, while Guilderland ` playing in its sixth consecutive Sectional final ` finished with an 11-3 mark.“