HERSHEY, Pa. -- A bid to do something no female high school athletes have done in Pennsylvania ended for sisters Karli and Tanya Timko yesterday -- but not before they put up a fight befitting the most strapping of their male counterparts.
Chartiers-Houston High School's Timko sisters -- senior Karli and sophomore Tanya -- were defeated in the opening round of the PIAA Class AA boys' doubles tennis championships, 7-5, 2-6, 7-6 (6) by Harrisburg Academy juniors Andrew Kantor and Ted Otto at the Hershey Racquet Club.
The loss ended the Timkos' bid to become the first girls to win a Pennsylvania boys' state championship in any sport.
But the Timkos -- who three weeks ago became the first girls' team to win a boys' WPIAL doubles title -- didn't go quietly.
After falling in a first set in which, Karli said, "We realized we were playing a very good team right away," they settled in and breezed through the second set, forcing a decisive third set.
It was there the Timko sisters fell behind by 3-0 and then by 5-2 before rallying to force a tiebreaker as the crowd grew larger, standing shoulder to shoulder in some spots, around their court. But Kantor and Otto fought off the sisters, whose bloodlines include a father who was a quarterback at West Virginia, a mother who was a gymnast there, a grandfather who played basketball for the Mountaineers, a sister who is a Division I softball player at Robert Morris and an aunt -- Mary Lou Retton -- who in 1984 became the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in gymnastics.
"It was never a letdown on our part," Kantor said. "They got behind and started swinging away and fought themselves back in the match. It wasn't what we weren't doing; it was what they were doing. They are very good."
The Timko sisters took the loss hard, eschewing a few requests for postmatch interviews and quickly gathering their belongings and heading for their car with their mother.
About a half-hour after the match ended, however, they fielded a cell phone call from the Post-Gazette.
"This was the opportunity of a lifetime," Tanya said. "The ending just wasn't meant to be. ... I wanted it for Karli more because she's a senior. After the last point, we hugged each other and she said to me, 'Don't cry.' That moment was tough, but now I realize all we've been through together and I'm happy we went through it."